Indigenous Languages and Education Secretariat
In 2014, the GNWT established the Indigenous Languages and Education Secretariat (ILES) within the Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) to enhance the protection, revitalization and strengthening of Indigenous languages throughout the NWT.
ILES primary responsibilities include:
- Oversee the NWT Indigenous Languages Framework (2017)and Action Plan (2018 to 2022), a four year plan that provides the blueprint for Indigenous language revitalization and access in the NWT.
- Administer the multi-year Canada-NWT Cooperation Agreement for Indigenous Languages. The agreement transfers funds directly to Regional Indigenous Governments to lead and manage their own regional language plans, while sustaining training and professional development activities, community broadcasting, and other language-related initiatives.
- Implement the Indigenous Languages and Education (ILE) Policy that ensures education bodies welcome all students within learning environments that centre, respect, and promote the Indigenous worldviews, cultures, and languages of the community in which the school is located with 5 distinct categories of funding: Regional Indigenous Languages and Education (RILE) Coordinator, Indigenous Education (O&M), Indigenous language instructors (PYs), Resource Development: OLC & ILE Handbook (TLC), and Community Support.
- Provide Indigenous Languages and Education Handbook workshops - a user friendly teachers’ guide, which operationalizes the ILE Policy for culture based education and whole school approaches to language learning; and deliver the Our Languages Curriculum - a competency based curriculum that provides NWT Indigenous language instructors with the curricular outcomes, instructional strategies and assessment tools to foster language growth in NWT core Indigenous language classrooms with five language learning levels: emergent, beginning, intermediate, advanced, and capable.
- Provide administration support to two legislated boards to promote, enhance, maintain, and revitalize the NWT official languages – Official Language Board and Aboriginal Languages Revitalization Board.
- Compile the Official Languages Annual Report.
- Observe Indigenous Languages Month every February and other ECE promotional activities that celebrate Indigenous languages in media, homes, schools, and communities.
- Organize and host the Indigenous Languages and Education Symposium, a quadrennial gathering of Indigenous to celebrate Indigenous languages and education in the NWT (Most recent gathering in 2019 – next gathering in 2023)
Framework and Action Plan
The Northwest Territories Aboriginal Languages Framework: A Shared Responsibility tabled in May 2017, builds upon the NWT Aboriginal Languages Plan that was released in 2010 and set out a plan for strengthening Indigenous languages across the Northwest Territories.
The Framework (2017) is built around five essential elements that are required for Indigenous language revitalization and are needed to achieve the shared vision: “an NWT where Indigenous languages are supported, respected and thriving as languages of communication by all people.” It describes a broad vision, goals, and objectives, as well as a series of strategies and actions to support increased use of Indigenous languages by the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), communities, and residents.
The Framework will act as the blueprint for revitalizing and improving access to programs and services in all nine official Indigenous languages.
The 2018-2022 NWT Indigenous Languages Action Plan: A Shared Responsibility was launched in 2018, and outlines the actions, deliverables, and measures of success that promote, protect, and revitalize Indigenous languages in the NWT.
The Action Plan (2018) has been developed to meet two overarching goals:
- Language Revitalization – highlighting the responsibility of all people in the NWT to maintain the strength of Indigenous languages as a means of communication and as a connection to culture; and
- Language Access – maintaining that all people in the NWT have access to high quality public services in all official Indigenous languages.