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N.S. introduces legislation to enshrine Mi’kmaw as province’s first language

Click to play video: 'Mi’kmaw Friendship Centre hosting celebrations to honour Mi’kmaq people' Mi’kmaw Friendship Centre hosting celebrations to honour Mi’kmaq people
The Mi’kmaw Friendship Centre is hosting a four days long celebration to honour Mi’kmaw people, and on Friday, a communal salmon dinner has taken place in honor of Treaty Day. Amber Fryday has more. – Oct 1, 2021

Nova Scotia’s government is introducing legislation to enshrine Mi’kmaw as the province’s first language.

Karla MacFarlane, minister of L’nu affairs, said today the Mi’kmaw Language Act develops a revitalization strategy to promote and preserve the language of the First Nations people who live in the province.

This bill establishes a joint committee to create a multi-year strategy for protecting the language.

Read more: Pope’s apology means ‘nothing’ without action: N.S. Indian day school survivor

The legislation will be proclaimed on a date agreed upon with Mi’kmaw leadership, and it will take effect on Oct. 1, which is Treaty Day.

Eskasoni First Nation Chief Leroy Denny said today he’s very excited about the bill, adding that “it is a big first step but there is still a lot of work to be done.”

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Denny says he’s eager to work with “elders, knowledge keepers, language warriors,” as well as with the province to bring this legislation forward.

Brian Gould, executive director of Mi’kmaw education authority Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, says they are seeing language loss in communities, but “most importantly we are seeing a language resurgence in communities where youth and community people are actively in pursuit of restoring their language and culture.”

“This legislation will help strengthen that,” he says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2022.

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