The United Nations (UN) has recognized International Mother Language Day for 20 years. It said 43 per cent of the world’s 6,000 languages are endangered.
Jaffer said the goal of her bill is to raise awareness and educate Canadians on the importance of languages.
“French and English will always be foundational languages, but in this country, we speak 200 languages,” Jaffer said. “I think that children and adults should be allowed or encouraged to speak more languages.”
Randy Morin teaches two Cree language classes and is developing a Cree speaking certificate program at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S).
He said there aren’t many Canadian universities offering classes like his, and the best way to keep a language alive is by speaking it and sharing it with others.
“Every language is like a world view,” Morin explained.
“When we lose it, we lose something great.”
Morin said 2019 being recognized as the International Year of Indigenous Languages garnered more support for Indigenous culture. He thinks International Mother Language Day would have a similar impact.
Jaffer will speak more on Bill S-212 in April. She’s hoping it will be approved by the House of Commons by June 2020 but thinks it would be more likely approved in December 2020.
If everything goes as planned, Feb. 21, 2021, will be recognized as International Mother Language Day in Canada.