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Of the 87 Aboriginal Canadian languages spoken in the last century, 61 are endangered, 24 are vulnerable and two became extinct within living memory.

Aboriginal language and culture

Aboriginal communities across Canada have unique cultures and languages. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) counts a total of 87 Aboriginal Canadian languages, which doesn’t include the dialects associated with each. In Aboriginal communities, language plays a significant role in cultural heritage, but the number of fluent speakers for many of these languages is rapidly dwindling. Some Aboriginal communities are finding new ways to revitalize the use of their language through technological tools. To learn about one such community, check out this video: youtube.com/watch?v=XmCTEzD6HE4&list=PL9seAzJtXcku0nkpu78W3CBrq0BVlBvu8

Discussion questions

What is the relationship between language and culture? What are some of the challenges Aboriginal communities face when trying to preserve their languages? Why is language so important for one’s cultural heritage?

Resources

UNESCO. Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. unesco.org/culture/languages-atlas/index.php?hl=en&page=atlasmap%20http://www.unesco.org/culture/languages-atlas/

CBC. “Once-Vibrant Aboriginal Languages Struggle for Survival.” cbc.ca/news/canada/once-vibrant-aboriginal-languages-struggle-for-survival-1.1173659

 

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