Government of Canada makes historic contribution to support Indigenous languages in the North

Since 2019, the government has invested more than $77.2 million in Indigenous organizations and communities in support of Indigenous languages

YELLOWKNIFE, NT, Nov. 25, 2022 /CNW/ - Language is vital to First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures and identities, but most Indigenous languages are in a critical state. The Government of Canada will continue partner with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities to ensure that their languages are strengthened and spoken for generations to come.

Today, Michael V. McLeod, Member of Parliament (Northwest Territories), announced a $39.4-million investment to support the efforts of communities, organizations and governments in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen their languages. 

The announcement was made on behalf of the Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez at the Yellowknives Dene First Nation community centre. This organization is receiving funding to deliver language and culture classes and camps, as well as develop lesson plans, books, videos and reference documents in the Wiiliideh language.

With today's announcement, the government has invested $77.2 million to support Indigenous languages in the North since Budget 2019, reaffirming its commitment to support First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and organizations, along with their unique language needs.

The Government of Canada recognizes that the First Nations, Inuit and Métis are best placed to lead in the reclamation, revitalization, maintenance and strengthening of their languages. Funds committed to date will increase the number of community-driven activities dedicated to keeping Indigenous languages alive. This investment will facilitate language-learning activities including language instruction, language nests, language and culture camps, land-based teachings, language development and translation, mentor-apprentice programs, and language training for instructors. Funds will also support the development of multimedia resources, dictionaries, online and digital language training, and strategic language plans.

In addition to funding community-based initiatives, these investments will support each of the four Inuit land-claim organizations in developing and implementing their own Indigenous languages strategies. This funding will also support the governments of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories in delivering services, activities, programs and resources to First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples in their own languages.


"Language defines our sense of belonging, our culture and ties us to the people who have lived here for countless generations. Significant investments in Indigenous languages and cultures are vital for northern First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities in telling their stories. We recognize the critical state of Indigenous languages in Canada and will continue to take concrete steps on the path to reconciliation."

— The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage

"Dozens of Indigenous languages and dialects are spoken across the North. Today's announcement is an important step forward in preserving and strengthening them. This is a testament to what we can accomplish in partnership with Indigenous organizations and communities. Together, we can preserve Indigenous languages and cultures for future generations."

—The Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs

"Languages are more than just words; they connect people, tell stories, convey wisdom and traditions as well as define who we are. Close to 500 years of colonialization has threatened the existence of Indigenous languages, which are core to their cultures. Cultural revitalization, including language promotion, is a crucial step towards dismantling this system. Through the Indigenous Languages and Cultures Program, our government continues to promote Indigenous languages alongside First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners on the path toward reconciliation."

—The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

"Language is at the heart of culture, identity and tradition. Across the country, dozens of Indigenous languages are spoken despite the ongoing colonization process that has suppressed these languages and made them hard to retain and revitalize. Indigenous languages are at risk, which is why it is critical that Indigenous partners and organizations have the tools and support they need for language promotion. Through Canadian Heritage, Indigenous Services Canada and other federal departments, we will continue to support First Nations, Inuit, and Métis partners in their work to strengthen, promote, and reclaim their languages."

—The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services

"Indigenous languages are a source of vitality and strength, particularly throughout the North and Arctic. Our government recognizes the importance of preserving and strengthening Indigenous cultures, traditions and languages. That is why we continue to increase our investments in communities throughout Canada where Indigenous languages are a part of the fabric of everyday life."

—Michael V. McLeod, Member of Parliament (Northwest Territories)

"Intergenerational and systemic impacts of the residential school system have heavily imposed threats to our language. It is important for us to celebrate the revitalization of our language and for everyone to recognize our Wiiliideh language officially. This event is important as it's an opportunity to advocate for our languages, distinguishing from other languages. This funding is a step forward reconciling our heritage and identity."

— Chief Edward Sangris of Dettah

"Language revitalization is very important for our First Nation. We have experienced generational historic trauma and damage to our language. We need our young people to learn the language to ensure its longevity and ensure that future generations are taught the knowledge and the way of our people. Our young people need the space, dedicated time and resources to adequately learn our ancestorial languages. This funding is a step towards reconciling our lost heritage and identity."

— Chief Fred Sangris of Ndılǫ

Quick Facts

In Budget 2019 and Budget 2021, Canada made a $840.1-million, seven-year investment, starting in 2019-20, and added $117.7 million per year in ongoing funding, to support the community-based efforts of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen their languages.

In 2020-21, regional and distinctions-based Indigenous Review Committees were introduced to make funding recommendations to Canadian Heritage on most applications within the available budget.

The Indigenous Languages Act received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019. Canadian Heritage continues to work in partnership with Indigenous partners and organizations to implement the act and develop a new approach to investing in Indigenous languages.

Census 2021 found that, from 2016 to 2021, a growing share (seven percent) of Indigenous Peoples are learning an Indigenous language as a second language.

During the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032), Canada will continue to work closely with Indigenous partners to plan specific initiatives and activities to advance the decade's objectives.

Related Products or Associated Links


Indigenous Languages Act

Joint Statement by Ministers Guilbeault, Bennett, Miller and Vandal on the Importance of Indigenous Languages

Indigenous Languages

Statement by Ministers Rodriguez, Hajdu, Miller, and Vandal on National Indigenous Languages Day

Arctic and Northern Policy Framework

International Decade of Indigenous Languages

Joint Statement – The Government of Canada, National Indigenous leaders and the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages mark the start of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages -

Inuit Nunangat Policy

SOURCE Canadian Heritage

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