Understanding how to support Indigenous languages in the classroom By Candace Kaleimamoowahinekapu Galla, Kanaka Hawaiʻi, Ph.D., Associate Professor, UBC; and Marny Point, Musqueam, Ph.D. student, Adjunct Professor and Program Instructor, UBC, on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the hənqəminəm speaking xwməθkwəyəm (Musqueam) people ‘
Indig en ous l a n gua ge fra mewor ks, p ol i ci es, a n d i n it ia t ive s Within what is now known as Canada there have been a handful of recent policies, frameworks, and international initiatives in the last decade that demonstrate a movement toward support of Indigenous Peoples and their respective Indigenous languages. These include the following: Tr u t h a nd Reco nc iliatio n Co mmissio n ( T RC) Calls to Ac tio n The TRC made several Calls to Action in 2015 regarding Indigenous languages to remedy the legacy and impact of residential schools on generations of Indigenous families, communities, and nations. This long history has been known and felt by survivors and intergenerational survivors, which has been validated by archived documentation, reports, testimony, and the countless, massive unmarked gravesites of missing children, yet this has only recently been acknowledged and recognized as the truth in this country. U NES CO’s Internatio nal Year of Indigeno u s L angu ages ( IY IL ) a nd In te r n a t io nal Decade of Indigeno u s L angu ages ( IDIL ) The IDIL, which commenced in 2022, was an outcome of the 2019 IYIL. It intends to raise awareness of Indigenous language vitalities, and to protect, promote, and strengthen Indigenous languages locally and globally. This international initiative recognizes and affirms that a sense of urgency is required to revitalize Indigenous languages and to build the capacity within Indigenous communities. B C a n d Canada’s legislatio n In 2019, Bill C-91 (the Indigenous Languages Act) was passed in Canada stating that the “recognition and implementation of rights related to Indigenous languages are at the core of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and are fundamental to shaping the country.” Later that same year, BC passed Bill 41, known as BC’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA), which establishes the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as its framework for reconciliation, as called upon by the TRC Calls to Action. In 2021, Bill C-15 (Canada’s DRIPA) was passed into law in Canada. We can anticipate that there will be further changes to existing laws within BC and across Canada to align them with UNDRIP principles. These policies, frameworks, and initiatives in BC, Canada, and beyond serve as foundational resources that support Indigenous language work and are a crucial reminder that Indigenous Peoples are still here—continuing to fight and advocate for their human rights, cultures, and languages in an unjust and colonial world. These policies indicate that Indigenous Peoples can hold responsible parties and stakeholders to account in an effort to restore and (re)normalize Indigenous languages to their rightful place in the local and global society, and across all domains of life alongside English and French.
6 TEACHER Nov/Dec 2022