Mi’kmaw will be recognized as Nova Scotia’s first language under legislation expected to be tabled next spring.
With the number of people able to speak Mi’kmaq declining rapidly, the Nova Scotia Office of Un Affairs announced on Friday that the province hopes to preserve, revitalize and promote the Mi’kmaq language.
The provincial government said in a press release that it will work with Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, the collective voice for Mi’kmaw education, and other Mi’kmaw organizations and communities to develop legislation to instill a new life for the language he says is “at risk”.
“I am delighted and look forward to only good things to come from the work we set out to do,” said Blaire Gould, executive director of Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey in the press release. âWe have to work hard for the survival of our language and our ways of being and knowing for our children and future generations. The original language of this land is Mi’kmaw and we intend to restore this language for all generations, whether you live in community or in an urban setting.
Many speakers of the Mi’kmaw language teach and preserve the language in schools and communities and the province is committed to supporting them and helping to educate Nova Scotians about the treaties signed between the Mi’kmaw and the European settlers.
âLanguage is a fundamental aspect of cultural identity and the Mi’kmaw language reflects the culture of the First Peoples of this province,â Karla MacFarlane, Minister of UN Affairs, said in a statement. âThe revitalization of the Mi’kmaw language is essential to the understanding and preservation of Mi’kmaw culture and supports continued reconciliation.
Chief Leroy Denny of the Eskasoni First Nation, who is also president of Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, says this is a critical step in the revitalization and maintenance of the Mi’kmaw language.
âIt is imperative for reconciliation that the Mi’kmaw language be seen and heard across the province,â Denny said in the statement. âIt is also important for society in general to see the importance of preserving and protecting the Mi’kmaw language.
Jasmine Ma’sl, a language teacher with the Potlotek First Nation, says the state of the language of her ancestors is constantly on her mind.
“In this crucial time for the Mi’kmaw language, recognizing Mi’kmaw as the first language of Nova Scotia could help prevent the extinction of the earth’s natural language, heal youth through the recovery of our identities and to ensure that the efforts of those who fought to preserve the language were not in vain, âMa’sl said in the press release.
Elder Silipay Denny of the Eskasoni First Nation, who is the oldest Mi’kmaw Elder in Nova Scotia, is delighted with the news.
âIt’s the right thing to do because the language comes from this land and the people,â Elder Denny said. âPeople are losing our language, and it has been a long struggle to keep it alive. This legislation will reinforce the importance of us and our language.