Parliamentary Secretary meets Indigenous people in S'toon to work on Indigenous Languages Act
- EFN Staff | August 21, 2017
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism) Arif Virani made a special visit in Saskatoon and met with language experts trying to develop an Indigenous Languages Act – the first act of its kind for the government of Canada.
“It’s never been done before,” Virani said. “We’re also doing it on a co-development basis…we’re getting the input firsthand before we table the legislation to Parliament.”
The Parliamentary Secretary has been visiting and meeting with members of the Indigenous community travelling across the country to hear what needs to be done in order to revitalize Indigenous languages.
“I’m going around visiting different parts of the country and connecting with language experts, language leaders, community leaders and elders [to hear] from them what they would like to see in the legislation,” he said. “What kind of structure and governance they want and what kind of focus they would want…those are the type of questions we’ve been asking in terms of what sort of the needs are and how do we address those needs.”
The common responses he received throughout his visits from the people is that it needs to be a long-term strategy. He said people don’t want a funding model that is month to month or year to year, they want stable and long-term funding that will also be at an adequate level to support some long-term planning.
Virani was in Saskatoon for a few days and will be heading to British Columbia next in early September.
He is trying to get as many visits and meetings done at as soon as possible before mid-September. Virani will be regrouping with AFN, Metis and Inuit leaders to report back as a group about what they heard from the different consultations and they will be working on trying to devise the legislation itself.
“We’ve made a commitment to try table a legislation in 2018 and present that in the House of Commons,” said Virani.
“It’s important in terms the fact that I’m out here doing these consultations just as tangible evidence of how important this is,” he said. “What we’re trying to do with this language legislation is a key component [that] relates to commitments that we made under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action.”
Virani said what they have done even before they implement this legislation is committing $90-million dollars of funding over the next few years towards promoting, protecting and preserving Aboriginal languages. He also attended the AFN annual meeting in Regina a few weeks back to hear from different Indigenous leaders of what they wanted to see from legislation.