Two new programs will get funding to help increase the number of proficient Indigenous language speakers and the number of Indigenous language translators in Manitoba, the provincial government announced Thursday.
The province will provide $300,000 in funding for a partnership with the non-profit Indigenous Languages of Manitoba Inc. to create and operate the two programs over the next three years.
One program will focus on language programming and apprenticeships to increase the number of proficient Indigenous language speakers in Manitoba.
The other program will focus on translator training, with the goal of increasing the number of translators working in the province.
“Our people have a right to their language and to be connected to their cultures,” Melanie Kennedy, executive director of Indigenous Languages of Manitoba, was quoted as saying in a news release announcing the funding.
“This funding will give us the opportunity to balance the scales to build long-term capacity and to genuinely make an impact when it comes to the survival of our languages, while paving a path of acceptance and opportunity for our children and future generations,” she said in the release.
According to the province, her non-profit organization, which focuses on promoting the survival of Indigenous languages, is the only place where translation services are available for all seven Indigenous languages recognized under Manitoba’s Aboriginal Languages Recognition Act: Ininímowin (Cree), Dakota, Dene, Inuktitut, Michif, Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway) and Anishininimowin (Oji-Cree).
Indigenous Languages of Manitoba’s services are used by a number of organizations, including several government departments, the province’s news release said.
Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relation Minister Alan Lagimodiere says the demand for Indigenous language services is growing across Manitoba, “but the existing capacity to provide those services is limited.”
The partnership announced Thursday will help ensure “timely access to critical information in Indigenous languages,” he said in the province’s news release.
The province said over the three years they’re funded for, the two programs announced Thursday are expected to lead to 20 intermediate speakers and 10 translators in Dakota, 15 advanced speakers and five translators in Michif, and 10 master speakers and 20 translators in Ininímowin and Anishinaabemowin.
Several of the calls to action included in the final 2015 report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission pertain to language, including No. 13, which calls for the acknowledgement that Indigenous rights include Indigenous language rights.