National Indigenous Languages Day is Friday, March 31, 2023, and it is a day to celebrate and honour Indigenous languages in Canada. The decade from 2022 to 2032 is also the International Decade of Indigenous Languages to promote the use of Indigenous languages world-wide.
During a video interview, Ottawa Catholic School Board students Abbey from St. Francis Xavier and Lily from St. Mother Teresa expressed their thoughts about learning an Indigenous language. They are both eager to learn the language of their ancestors so they can feel more connected to their own culture and heritage. Lily encourages others to embrace opportunities to learn Indigenous languages as well. “If you know someone who speaks the language fluently, that’s Indigenous, and you should take up that language. I think that’s a really cool skill, and it connects you to your ancestors even more.”
How OCSB Schools Are Embracing Indigenous Culture and Language
Many schools within the Ottawa Catholic School Board have student-led Indigenous Students Associations where students discuss indigenous-specific needs and goals to build a more inclusive environment within their school communities. Students plan various events and initiatives to celebrate and honour Indigenous culture throughout the school year.
Some OCSB schools also added outdoor classrooms to their school grounds to facilitate Indigenous knowledge sharing. All Saints High School’s Legacy Garden includes the Anishinaabemowin language on their garden sign, which features the Medicine Wheel and the purpose of the garden space.
How We Can Continue to Promote Indigenous Languages in Our Communities
Sharing Indigenous Language resources with students, staff, friends, and family is a great way to encourage Indigenous Language learning within our communities. When we learn more about the rich heritage of Indigenous languages, we can better encourage others to adopt Indigenous languages into their vocabulary. For example, the Ojibwe People’s Dictionary is a great place to learn words in Ojibwe, such as thanks, which is Miigwech. As student Lily from St. Mother Teresa said, it’s also an incredible skill.
What Are Some Good Indigenous Language Resources?
If you’re looking for some Indigenous learning opportunities throughout the school year, the OCSB Indigenous Education Department features helpful resources on its website all year round.
Here is a list of some resources to get you started on your Indigenous Language learning journey:
- Ojibwe Lessons
- Learn Michif
- Learn Inuktitut
- The Travelling Linguist – 11 Facts You Didn’t Know About Indigenous Languages Spoken in Canada
- Ted Talk – Canada needs thriving Indigenous Languages
- CBC News: The UN International Decade of Indigenous Languages Begins in 2022
- Royal Canadian Geographical Society: International Decade of Indigenous Languages