Reconciling the tension between Indigenous and official languages
Sandrine Tailleur, UQAC
Yvette Mollen, Université de Montréal
Indigenous languages throughout the world are under pressure from colonial languages. In Canada, the legacy of residential schools, Settler-focused education models, economic pressures, and assimilatory government policies all contribute to interrupting the inter-generational transmission of Indigenous languages. Even in regions where Indigenous language users form the majority, access to education in these languages is inadequate. In parallel, the Canadian context is unique insofar as official bilingualism provides both opportunities and incentives for learning two colonial languages. This tension was apparent in the media following the naming of Mary Simon as Governor General. While some voices criticized her lack of English-French bilingualism, others argued for increased recognition of Indigenous language knowledge, underscoring the additional challenge faced by Indigenous people if they are expected to prioritize both colonial languages above their own. This session will explore challenges and possibilities for reconciling the tension between Indigenous and official languages, in Canada and beyond, in terms of language rights, teacher education, curricula, and government policies.