Indigenous Languages Education

As part of GNWT’s commitment to reconciliation and the 18th Legislative Assembly mandate to renew the former Aboriginal Language and Culture Based (ALCBE) (2004) Directive, ECE finalized the new NWT Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 (JK-12) Indigenous Languages and Education (ILE) Policy by ensuring Indigenous language instruction and culture-based school programs are supported and adequately resourced. The Indigenous Languages and Education Secretariat oversees the implementation of the ILE Policy.

The ILE policy provides a more effective way to support education bodies in the delivery of Indigenous languages and education programming by outlining improved program guidelines, training, funding, and accountability measures. It also supports language and culture-based learning by focusing on promoting Indigenous worldviews, cultures, and languages of communities in which schools are located.

Supporting Documents

The following supporting documents will support the phased-in implementation of the policy over the next three years:

The ILE Procedures Manual

  • Outlines the funding conditions and reporting expectations associated with the new ILE Policy.

The ILE Handbook

  • Describes how to operationalize the ILE Funding Policy, and share promising practices regarding Indigenous languages and education programming in the NWT

The NWT School Funding Framework

  • Delineates the new funding formulas and conditional limits

The Education Accountability Framework

  • Discusses planning for and reporting on Indigenous Languages and Education programming

NWT JK-12 Indigenous Languages and Education (ILE) Handbook

The NWT JK-12 Indigenous Languages and Education (ILE) Handbook: Our People, Our Land, Our Ways, Our Languages is intended to guide the implementation of the ILE Policy and the sharing of wise practices used in Indigenous languages and education programming. Language revitalization and Indigenous education, like reconciliation, are ongoing processes in which all of us play a fundamental role. The practices documented in this handbook should be revisited regularly by educators with the intent of developing a deeper understanding of the practice as their experiential knowledge grows.

The ILE Handbook follows the four defined principles of the ILE Policy:

  1. Schools must actively implement Dene Kede (K-9) and Inuuqatigiit (K-12) to bring forward, in all instruction, the Indigenous worldviews, cultures, and languages of the community in which the school is located.
  2. Schools should 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, through building the school-community relationship, offering educator training and employing a whole school approach to Indigenous language use.
  3. Schools should work toward Indigenizing teaching and learning practices, Indigenizing the content of curricula and programming, and providing opportunities for all JK-12 students to engage in authentic and relevant key cultural experiences throughout the school year.
  4. Schools that provide Indigenous language instruction must offer dedicated time for Indigenous language instruction within the regular education program and actively implement the Our Languages curriculum.

Our Languages Curriculum

The Our Languages Curriculum is 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.

  • The curriculum follows lessons learned from both the Intensive French programming and from a Neurolinguistics approach piloted in the Dehcho region during the 2015/16 and 2016/17 school years.
  • The curriculum promotes a whole-school approach to language learning to ensure that Indigenous languages are heard and spoken throughout the schools, assemblies, during routines, and in all NWT classrooms.
  • The curriculum is aligned with the two foundational curricula, Dene Kede and Inuuqatigiit, which grounds the teaching and learning in NWT Indigenous traditions, culture, and place.
  • The curriculum focuses on students’ attainment of five language learning levels: Emergent, Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Capable by the end of grade 12. For a student to be fluent they will also need to use their Indigenous language at home.
  • Children from each of the schools were assessed using a draft Oral Proficiency Scale by a fluent speaker who is not their teacher.  These baseline data results will be used to set goals for increasing language proficiency.
  • The curriculum was written with language educators and leaders from all NWT regions – ECE will continue to work directly with education authorities to ensure the new curriculum is implemented across the NWT.


The ILE Policy is also supported through five primary avenues of financial support:

  • Regional Indigenous Languages and Education Coordinators (RILE)  - positions within Education bodies that provide a regional leadership role
  • Indigenous Education - for operation and maintenance of Indigenous education programs and activities in NWT schools
  • Indigenous Languages Instruction - for Indigenous language instructors’ benefits and salaries;
  • Our Languages Resource Development (Previously TLCs) - for resource development activities to support the Our Languages Curriculum and ILE Handbook
  • Community Support - to purchase on-the-land equipment and supplies, hire cultural resource experts for short term projects, and provide Indigenous language and education training within communities.