June 14, 2021 – Ottawa, ON: The Métis National Council (MNC) welcomes the appointment of the first Commissioner and Directors of the newly created Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages.
Today, Federal Minister for Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault announced the appointment of Ronald E. Ignace as the first Commissioner of Indigenous Languages, and Robert Watt, Georgina Liberty, and Joan Greyeyes as the first Directors.
Clara Morin Dal Col, the Métis National Council’s Minister of Heritage, Culture and Families, said, “The Métis Nation is looking forward to working with the Commissioner and Directors. We are particularly pleased by the appointment of Georgina Liberty as one of the three Directors. It is very important to the Métis Nation that the leadership of the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages includes a citizen with direct experience of the unique language and cultural needs of our Nation. Georgina Liberty is well placed to play that important role.”
Georgina Liberty is a Métis Nation citizen who has been a leader in the protection, revitalization and promotion of the Michif language. Ms. Liberty has been an active member of the Manitoba Metis Federation since 1969 and has many years of experience in governance and policy. She served as the Director of Métis Nation 2020 and Manitoba 150 for the Métis National Council, which marked Manitoba’s 150th anniversary and the historic role of Louis Riel in bringing Manitoba into Confederation.
The Commissioner and Directors are appointed by the federal government but will work independently. The Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages is intended to support Indigenous language practitioners and to help ensure that the federal government lives up to its commitments under the 2019 Indigenous Languages Act.
MNC President Clément Chartier said, “Our national language, Michif, is critically endangered, as are some of the other Indigenous languages spoken by our citizens. The next few years will be crucial to expanding the number of fluent speakers so that Michif can continue to be a living
language. I’m glad that the new Office is in the hands of people who appreciate that urgency and who have the skills and expertise needed to support the vital work of language protection and revitalization.”
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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 peoples in the country