Module 1 – Post 6 – Aboriginal Languages Are Disappearing by Kevin Andrews

LINK:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/10/24/census-first-nations-languages.html

This article deals with the slow death of many traditional Canadian First Nation languages.  Canada once houses over 70 distinct languages, but according to the latest census only 60 still exist and of those, only 3 remain strong.  

The Mohawk language is another one which is barely hanging on, but a program has taken steps to re-teach to young students to speak it.  Residential schools played a large part in the destruction of language.  It is well documented that students who spoke their native tongue were beaten or worse.  Unfortunately, knowledge of culture is passed through generations through language.  If the language dies, the culture and knowledge will follow.  It is a lose-lose situation for communities when a language dies.

Based on my research, the bleakest area is British Columbia, where over half of the First Nation languages call home.  Only 1 in 20 First Nation persons is fluent in their language and most of those are elders.  Young people are not picking up the language as much as is needed for survival.  There is a push to rectify that situation.  More can speak the Native tongue in comparison to 2006, but the language is still in danger.

Racist beliefs (many left over from Residential School ideology) have led some First Nations to believe they are somehow ‘more’ Canadian if they don’t speak their Native tongue.  In addition, a lack of opportunity hurts the language.  Some believe outside of teaching, what is the point of getting a second, albeit, their first language.   Moreover, only NWT recognizes some Aboriginal languages as official languages.

This article was an eye-opener to further demonstrate how the use of technology can help with the re-emergence of cultural ideas and language in First Nation communities.  If I were to use it in a final project, I would juxtapose it against how technology could help preserve Aboriginal languages in culture.

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