Canada’s first Indigenous languages commissioner hopes to be operating by summer

By Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Canada’s first commissioner of Indigenous languages said Mondayhe hopes to have his office fully operational by the summer — about two years after it was first announced. 

Ronald Ignace appeared before a House of Commons committee that is studying the issue of Indigenous languages. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has prioritized revitalizing Indigenous languages as one of its goals in advancing reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across the country. 

It passed the Indigenous Languages Act in 2019, which mandated the creation of a languages commissioner. 

Ignace was appointed to the role in June 2021, along with several directors, and told MPs that the main focus to date has been on staffing up the office. 

“The complexity and significance of our mandate and responsibilities requires us to take the appropriate time and steps needed to establish a solid foundation for this organization,” he said. 

Because such a post has never before existed, Ignace said the group is building the office from the “ground up” and needs to take the time to get it right. 

He says work has begun on researching what the status of Indigenous languages looks like in Canada, adding once that office is up and running, it would fulfil its reporting requirements on the matter. 

Statistics Canada says data from the 2021 census shows the number of Indigenous-language speakers in the country has dropped overall, but noted some growth among the generation of those eight years old and younger. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2023.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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