January 29, 2021(Ottawa, ON) – The Métis National Council (MNC) is calling for a nation-to-nation, government-to-government Accord with Canada to ensure equitable and secure funding for the survival of the Indigenous languages that define Métis Nation culture and identity.
MNC President Clément Chartier, who was among the speakers at this week’s national Indigenous Languages Symposium, said, “Bringing languages back from the brink of extinction is the work of generations. The 2019 Indigenous Languages Act sets out important commitments to support Métis Nation-led revitalization efforts through sustained, long-term funding. A nation-to-nation, government-to-government Accord is crucial to ensuring that these commitments are kept.”
The week-long Indigenous Languages Symposium was jointly organized by the MNC, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Department of Canadian Heritage. The virtual symposium brought together language speakers, educators and other experts to share best practices and new innovations.
MNC Vice-President and National Spokesperson David Chartrand, who spoke at the closing of the Symposium, stated, “Michif is a critically endangered language, and we must do everything we can to preserve it and stop its marginalization. It’s our language, created by our ancestors. But the Métis are a uniquely multilingual Nation and are the keepers of other Indigenous languages, too. This week’s symposium stresses the importance of a Métis-specific approach to language preservation. Only then can we stop the extinction of these precious languages.”
The Métis Nation is proudly multilingual. In addition to English and French, Métis Nation citizens speak a number of First Nations languages and their own unique national language Michif. UNESCO has recognized Michif as a critically endangered language. This is the designation given to languages that are at greatest risk of extinction.
MNC Minister of Heritage, Families and Culture Clara Morin Dal Col has recently been appointed to the UNESCO task force coordinating the upcoming International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032). Minister Morin Dal Col said, “Almost all the fluent speakers of Michif are elderly. Their numbers have declined since Michif was first recognized as a critically endangered language. By the end of the International Decade, many more of our Elders will have passed on. That’s why it is so critical to a support a new generation of learners on the journey to fluency. The survival of our cultural and identity depends on it.”
In 2017, the Métis Nation and the federal government entered into the Canada-Métis Nation Accord establishing a permanent bilateral relationship consistent with the Constitutional recognition of the Métis Nation as a founding partner in Confederation. Specific sub-accords have since been negotiated in areas such as housing, early learning and child care, post-secondary education and economic development. MNC is seeking a federal commitment to co-develop a sub-accord on Métis Nation languages.
For more information contact:
Métis National Council
The MNC represents the Métis Nation in Canada at the national and international levels. The Métis Nation’s homeland includes the 3 Prairie Provinces and extends into the contiguous parts of British Columbia, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and the United States. There are approximately 400,000 Métis Nation citizens in Canada, roughly a quarter of all aboriginal people in the country.