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Video: Revitalizing Indigenous Languages

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Dr Peter Jacobs of the Wiwik'em Squamish Nation and Elder Dolores Greyeyes Sand from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation explain why the revitalization of indigenous languages in Canada is essential for reconciliation.

Duration: 00:04:28
Published: May 28, 2021
Code: IRA1-V50


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Revitalizing Indigenous Languages

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Transcript: Revitalizing Indigenous Languages

[Dr Peter Jacobs] To use the words of our our grandparents is why it's so important to us, first of all, because that's the way that people were taught in the past by their grandparents. I didn't grow up speaking either of my languages fluently, but I did learn Squamish as an adult and was able to start talking with my grandmother in Squamish and learn from her the way that she was taught. So that I don't know the vision for language revitalization, it didn't start recently, a long time ago, even before our grandparents were considered citizens of Canada. They were fighting to keep the language alive. And we have lots of beautiful stories about how they, why today we even have language, Squamish language to speak. So I really think it's the vision of our ancestors that still here today, and it's flourishing. It's a matter of identity?  Definitely. I find it's hard to know why something is important until you don't have it.

[Elder Dolores Greyeyes Sand] I love my Cree language when I was in university and I was able to to study it and to break it apart and understand how the language worked, and that's when I first knew that I could work in the language. And as for its being, its importance, it's given to us by the creator. And so it is our responsibility to maintain it and to revitalize it now that it's somewhat weakened. Well, reconciliation, education is the key to reconciliation. And we must know and understand the traditions and the culture and the the values, the world view of each other to be reconciled. And are our partners in this reconciliation, the greater Canadian population need to know that our culture and traditions and our identities are within our languages and for them to understand it will make it easier for reconciliation to continue.

[Dr Peter Jacobs] You know an active acknowledgment about the wishes of different First Nations across Canada for their languages, so to learn that, is to learn a lot about a people. I have been questioned many times about why we do this from people who are not involved and when they get to know the movement and to see the work, it's transformational for them because they have it's hard to imagine for people what it's like to be close to losing a language and then bringing it back and what motivates people. That should motivate anybody in the world to meet a group of people like that who have that drive and that vision. So for Canadians who are who are looking at a First Nations, maybe that they don't know very well, Reconciliation means learning that particular story of those people that you're getting to meet.  And and honouring that story and supporting it and finding ways to be an ally with that. I think that's an important I think that's an important part of healing for all of Canada.

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