Canadian. Language. News.

January 11th, 2021
Welcome to OUR LANGUAGE RIGHTS, bi-weekly curation of language related news across Canada brought to you by LAD Canada, a community of forward-thinking organizations and individuals in the non-profit, public and private sectors, driven by the desire to make a positive impact by advocating for access to information and services in languages people understand. We are interested in the role languages have in economic recovery, education, mental and seniors' health as well as in creating a more equitable and inclusive society. Our objective is to inform, connect and help with increasing visibility for language rights activism efforts through all relevant platforms, offline and online.
Upcoming Events: 
Please register for our panel on January 14th, 2021: LANGUAGE ADVOCACY ON THE PERIPHERY: LGBTQ+ Asylum Seekers
Registration for the Language Advocacy Day (February 4th, 2021) is now OPEN: LAD21 Registration 

Indigenous Languages

To revitalise their ‘severely endangered’ language, Gitxsan users get creative  - Even during a global pandemic, Indigenous communities all over the world are coming up with ingenious ways of keeping their languages alive. Take the Gitxsan people of British Columbia, Canada: This April, dedicated language activists Cheyenne Raven and Jessica Starlund set up a Facebook group that promotes the Gitxsan language and encourages community participation in the form of an online talent show, aptly named Gitxsan Got Talent.
The Government of Canada Calls for Applications to Fill the Positions of the Commissioner and Directors of Indigenous Languages “The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced today that the Notice of Appointment Opportunity, which solicits applications to fill the positions of (1) Commissioner and (up to 3) Directors of Indigenous Languages, has been posted on the Governor in Council Appointments website.”
Feds seek applicant for new commissioner of Indigenous Languages office “According to the Canadian Heritage press release, the commissioner and the directors will work with Indigenous Peoples and their respective governments; other governing bodies, communities and organizations; the governments of Canada and the provinces and territories; and all Canadians to support the self-determined work of Indigenous peoples in reclaiming, revitalizing, maintaining and strengthening First Nations, Inuit and Métis languag


Ontario Improves Access to French Justice Services in the North “NORTH BAY — The Ontario government is partnering with the Superior and Ontario Courts of Justice to improve access to services in French at the North Bay courthouse. Building on the success of similar initiatives in Sudbury and Ottawa, the enhancements will make it easier for French-speaking Ontarians to access court services and court proceedings.”

Conservatives would apply French-language law to federal jobs in Quebec “Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has joined the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party in supporting Bill 101 rules for the use of the French language for federally chartered businesses and activities operating in Quebec.”

Commissioner calls on all Ontario ministries to produce plans to improve French language services “French Language Services Commissioner Kelly Burke today is urging the province to improve the planning for the provision of French language services across the government. She recommends that each ministry produce French language services plans.”

Immigration/ Pandemic and Emergency Communication

From Gurdwaras to Truckers, How to Protect a Diverse, Working Suburb - Sukhmeet Sachal took on the challenge with his Surrey initiative, providing targeted pandemic messaging and support. "There are strengths to be recognized too, said Bains. Multigenerational households provide immigrant families economic, physical and social support, especially at a time like a pandemic."
Language, tech barriers make it challenging to get COVID-19 resources to some communities - According to recent data for public health, people whose first language is not English or French are among a list of populations disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and are at higher risk of COVID-19 infection. Martinez said lack of education could be a contributing factor. She said some newcomers may not know how to navigate phone applications or online websites to find the right resources and instead stick to what they do know.
Social barriers in Windsor school community with province's largest COVID-19 outbreak amplify risk - Low-income populations can have a number of barriers working against them when it comes to COVID-19 vulnerability, including living in smaller and more dense areas, working front-line jobs, a lack of child support and a dependency on public transit. There can also be a language barrier to accessing information being put out by officials.
New Hindu COVID-19 Task Force aims to make public health messaging more accessible in Peel - “A group of doctors has formed what is called the Hindu COVID-19 Task Force to ensure Peel Region communities understand public health messaging about the novel coronavirus.”
COVID consequences: Ottawa’s Syrian community acutely affected by education, language barriers during pandemic "Newcomer advocates in Ottawa are concerned that — as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic — children in the Syrian refugee community aren’t getting sufficient education or enough language practice to be able to adjust to life in Canada."
According to community leaders, many of the residents work in public-facing, low-income jobs with no opportunity to work from home, while they're more likely to reside in multi-generational households in densely populated neighbourhoods than other parts of the city. Language barriers may also blunt the impact of public health messaging.”

Language Rights and Advocacy

Royal Society of Canada - Joint Statement on Languages The RSC is proud to be part of this international initiative on "The Importance of Languages in a Global Context" and to join our fellow academies in upholding the importance of languages and language education around the world.
Language rights are human rights “The freedom to express ourselves through language is a fundamental human right. Whether with friends or family, communicating our thoughts, ideas, wishes and needs with those around us is key to basic survival. Language is also a vehicle for participation in community and cultural life.”

Language Education and Technology

Gender nonconforming French Canadians hit roadblocks as they seek to make language more gender-neutral  "MONTREAL -- Gender nonconforming French-Canadians are finding ways to make their language more gender-neutral. They created the word 'iel' - a relatively common gender-neutral option to il (he) and elle (her). But an added challenge is that French nouns are also gendered -- for example, the sun is masculine and a chair is feminine."
Language learning needs to change to reflect 'superdiverse' communities, expert says “Society needs to reflect on the linguistic identities of students who are learning English and French, Canada’s two official languages. In language classrooms, where English and French are taught as a Second Language programs reflect Canada’s bilingual mandate, how we teach languages has not evolved much from the traditional grammar-based mode of instruction. Research shows that in language learning, when students feel that teachers dismiss their prior linguistic knowledge and experiences, they lose interest, become disconnected and may become set for failure.”
This app translates voice in any SA language - and it's now used to fight Covid “An award-winning app that translates voice recordings across South African languages is now used to help treat Covid patients.”
College Welcomes Community to Share Culture Through Language "At least 14 languages will be shared during a December 21 virtual event that brings together the different threads of culture that make up the Selkirk College educational fabric. Open to all students, staff and community members, the event will be held via Zoom between 3:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. and is a vital way to connect international learners with the wider community."
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