Indigenous Languages Month

What is Indigenous Languages Month?

February is Indigenous Languages Month. This is a month to celebrate the diverse Indigenous languages in the Northwest Territories (NWT) and to encourage everyone to learn about and use them with pride.

To reverse the loss of language and culture and to keep Indigenous languages alive and thriving, they need to be spoken in homes, and communities so that intergenerational transmission can be restored. During this month take time to learn about the Indigenous languages of the NWT and how you can ensure their survival.

Learning about Indigenous languages is a step forward that each Canadian can take on the path to reconciliation and reclamation. Taking part in Indigenous Languages Month is one way to ensure NWT’s official Indigenous languages flourish for generations to come.

What led to the creation of Indigenous Languages Month?

National Aboriginal Languages Day (now National Indigenous Languages Day) was created by Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in 1989 to create awareness across Canada of the languages of the First Peoples, and to build support for their preservation.

National Aboriginal Languages Day was first celebrated on March 31, 1993. Since then, this day celebrates and encourages Indigenous language speakers, elders, knowledge keepers and youth across the country to live and learn in their mother tongue.

In 1993, Betty Harnum, the first Languages Commissioner of the NWT, on the recommendation of NWT residents, asked the AFN to devote more than one day to celebrate the importance of language and culture in our lives. The AFN agreed and declared the entire month of March as Aboriginal Languages Month.

In 2018, based on recommendation of the official language boards, February was declared the new Indigenous Languages Month in the NWT.