Manitoba News Release
April 20, 2010
LEGISLATION WOULD RECOGNIZE ABORIGINAL LANGUAGES OF MANITOBA IN LAW
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Proposals Would be First Step Toward Protecting, Promoting Province's Linguistic Heritage: Robinson
New legislation which would recognize Cree, Dakota, Dene, Inuktitut, Michif, Ojibway and Oji-Cree as the Aboriginal languages of Manitoba was introduced today in the legislature by Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson.
"Indigenous languages have vanished or are in danger of disappearing in many parts of the world and the same fate is possible for Manitoba's Aboriginal languages if we don't act now to protect them," said Robinson. "This legislation is the first step toward preserving and promoting Manitoba's proud Indigenous language heritage for the benefit of future generations."
According to the most recent Statistics Canada data, it is estimated that 25.2 per cent of Aboriginal Manitobans have knowledge of an Aboriginal language, down from 27.8 per cent from 2001.
It is remarkable any of Canada's indigenous languages are still spoken following a century and a half of forced assimilation through the residential school system, said Robinson, noting the importance of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission now underway in Winnipeg in addressing past wrongs including language deprivation.
"I've learned that when a language is taken away from a people, it's a major step toward the loss of a culture," said Robinson.
"Today there is once again pride and interest among Aboriginal youth in learning their languages and traditions but, in many cases, a painful past has resulted in a gap in traditional knowledge that needs to be bridged. Government policies are to blame for this so it only makes sense that governments now take responsibility and action to address it."
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