Supporting First Nations in exercising their Inherent and Treaty Rights over their unique priorities in language.

Our Work We promote the survival and growth of First Nations languages.

All First Nations languages in Canada are considered to be critically endangered. While there has been a continued dedication to the reclamation and revitalization of First Nations languages, the number of Indigenous language speakers continues to decline. The Assembly of First Nations Languages and Learning Sector supports Chiefs, technicians and First Nations in advocating for language and culture rights to protect First Nations traditions.

UNESCO considers all Indigenous languages in Canada at risk due to assimilationist government policies and actions.

There are over 60 unique Indigenous language dialects spoken in Canada, and all are considered to be critically endangered, except Inuktitut.

First Nations young adults feel less connected to traditional ceremonies or spirituality than older adults.

4 out of 5 First Nation adults consider traditional ceremonies or spirituality at least "somewhat" important, although young adults are less likely to feel the same way.

Initiatives & Priorities The policy areas, initiatives and committees promoting supports for the future of First Nations languages and culture.

Language Revitalization Legislation

After years of advocacy by First Nations, the Government of Canada now has a legislated commitment to respecting Indigenous languages. The purpose of the ILA is to enable the exercise of Indigenous language rights by creating legal assurance for adequate, sustainable, and long-term funding and support for Indigenous-led initiatives to reclaim, revitalize, maintain, and strengthen Indigenous languages.

On June 21, 2019, the ILA received Royal Assent. Based on direction from First Nations, the AFN is advocating for legislation to establish long-term, sustainable, consistent, appropriate approaches to support First Nations in their efforts to recover, reclaim, maintain and normalize First Nations languages.

The AFN Languages and Culture supports Chiefs, Technicians and First Nations in advocating for First Nations language and culture rights. The AFN, along with the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Métis National Council, and the Department of Canadian Heritage, work towards the full implementation of the Indigenous Languages Act at the Joint Implementation Steering Committee. The Act received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019. The purpose of the Act is to support the reclamation, revitalization, maintaining and strengthening of Indigenous languages in Canada. Key objectives that derive from the Act include, ensuring that First Nations have adequate, sustainable, and long-term funding and support for First Nations led initiatives.

Technical and Chiefs Committees

First Nations-in-Assembly establish committees by way of resolution to lead work or take action on specific subjects. Once established, committee members are appointed following each region’s formal rules, policies, and procedures for the operations of the regional Assembly of First Nations (AFN) offices. Chiefs’ committees and technical committees provide recommendations to the AFN, the Executive Committee, and the First Nations-in-Assembly.

Technical Committee on Languages

The Technical Committee on Languages (TCOL) provides technical expertise and knowledge of community level First Nations language revitalization efforts to advise the Chiefs Committee on Languages (CCOL) and AFN on matters relating to First Nations languages on a national level.

Chiefs Committee on Languages

The Chiefs Committee on Languages (CCOL) provides political direction, advice and recommendations to the National Chief, AFN Executive Committee, and Languages and Learning Sector in regard to the reclamation, revitalization, maintenance and normalization of First Nations languages.

Documents The latest resources on this topic.

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These are our latest reports, resolutions and other documents on the subject of Languages. To see more documents on this topic, and all other public AFN documents, visit the Document Library.

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