Canadian. Language. News.

June 21st, 2021
OTTAWA, June 14, 2021 - Language is at the heart of cultural identity; it shapes who we are and our perspectives. When we speak our languages, we share stories, pass on knowledge and create bonds for generations. Through the Indigenous Languages Act, the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages (OCIL) will support Indigenous peoples in ensuring that languages grow and prosper so they can be shared and spoken for years to come. Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced the first appointees to the new Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages:
  • Ronald E. Ignace, Commissioner
  • Robert Watt, Director; Georgina Liberty, Director; Joan Greyeyes, Director
Engagement sessions on the Indigenous Languages Act and recent consultations with a variety of Indigenous governments, other Indigenous governing bodies and multiple Indigenous organizations helped confirm the role and responsibilities of the Commissioner and Directors and inform the selection process. The OCIL will operate independently from the Government of Canada and support Indigenous peoples in their self-determining efforts to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages; promote public awareness of Indigenous languages; undertake research on the provision of funding and on the use of Indigenous languages in Canada; provide culturally appropriate dispute resolution services and review complaints.

June 21, 2021 marks the 25th annual National Indigenous Peoples Day, an opportunity for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage and diverse contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. 


Indigenous Languages - June, National Indigenous History Month

  • As a member of the Secwepemc Nation, Ron Ignace, the first Commissioner of Indigenous Languages, was the elected chief of the Skeetchestn Indian Band for more than 30 years. He holds a BA and MA in sociology from University of British Columbia, PhD in anthropology from SFU (dissertation focusing on Secwepemc oral history).
  • One of four people working as directors in Canada’s first federal office of Indigenous languages is Inuk. Nunavik’s Robert Watt, a former school board commissioner, will now be working to preserve Inuit languages and dialects across Inuit Nunangat in his new role as director in the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages, Steven Guilbeault, the minister of Canadian Heritage, announced Monday in a news conference.

  • For the Love of Language - more than 30 years, the Inuit Heritage Trust’s (IHT) Place Names Program has recorded Elders’ knowledge of the land and hundreds of traditional place names all over Nunavut. Preserving these names that are at risk of being lost due to the effects of Eurocentric naming conventions and colonization is critical work, and is reflected in the warm welcome the project has received in communities over the years.


  • The research, titled 'A portrait of the challenges of French-language research in a minority context in Canada,' points to the pressure to publish in English, the increasing use of English for grant applications and a disadvantage, in some cases, when applications are submitted in French.
  • In Budget 2021, the Government of Canada proposed $392 million for official language minority communities across the country. This funding aims to achieve greater levels of bilingualism, make high-quality post-secondary minority-language education available across Canada, support the construction, renovation and expansion of the educational and community spaces that serve official language minority communities and modernize the Official Languages Act. 
  • Montreal is getting its own French-language commissioner, Mayor Valérie Plante announced during an executive council meeting on Wednesday morning. The appointment is part of the city's action plan for promoting the French language, which will run from 2021 to 2024. The executive committee has provided the position of commissioner with a budget of $275,000 to support its actions starting in 2021.

Language Rights, Revitalization and Advocacy

Immigration/ Settlement and Emergency Communication 

The Politics of Language and Technology 

  • The Langauge of Conspiracy - We have all come across plenty of conspiracy theories on the internet, from faked moon landings to the idea that 5G radiation is worsening or even causing COVID-19 symptoms. But belief in conspiracy theories is no longer reserved for the fringes of society.
  • How your body language may have changed during the lockdown - But it’s not just the masks that hamper communication and cloud our interpretation of others’ intentions; it’s also the distancing, the new protocols … and the fear. Small wonder that people’s body language — the back-and-forth of micro expressions, head tilts, hand movements and stance — has changed so much in these past 15 pandemic months.
  • Language is a barrier to reporting hate crimes. … I faced barriers reporting my own hate crime where I waited on the phone for over 30 minutes and could only find online forms in Chinese,” he posted. Ngo started by asking friends for help in drawing attention to the issue. He has also been getting support to press government officials and discuss anti-Asian discrimination at national, corporate events.
  • The Language of Privilege -  as a language, wokeness is self-consciously engineered to be easier to exploit and use to bully your way to the top if you are a member of a “marginalized group” (to use woke parlance). That is, in a community where everyone speaks wokese, the intention is that a trans woman of color will have her ideas advanced and her enemies thwarted, and will generally be advantaged by the milieu she finds herself within, because that is how the rules are structured.
  • The “doctrine of discovery,” a policy originally emanating from decrees issued by the pope in the 15th century authorizing Christian explorers to claim so-called “terra nullius,” or vacant lands, based on the notion they had racial and religious superiority. Now, a new landmark piece of legislation will see the Canadian government overtly reject the doctrines of discovery and terra nullius as “racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust.
  • Growing up, Hangama Amiri was always on the move with her family, searching for peace and security. And the UNHCR was always part of the young Afghan refugee’s journey. So, when the United Nations refugee agency invited her to design the 2021 World Refugee Day emoji for Twitter, she says, she just jumped at the opportunity.
  • Twitter introduced an “Arabic (feminine)” language setting enabling the social media site to speak to users using feminine grammar, part of what it said was an inclusion and diversity drive.

Travelling Song: One Rattle, One People

OUR LANGUAGE RIGHTS BIWEEKLY is curated list of Canadian language related news 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.
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