Message from the Governor General on the occasion of National Indigenous Languages Day

March 31, 2023

Today, we mark National Indigenous Languages Day with a promise of ajuinnata. This is a word in Inuktitut that means to never give up, no matter how difficult the task ahead might be. In

Canada, there are more 70 Indigenous languages, spoken by First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Many of these languages are in danger of disappearing entirely. We cannot let that happen—we need to encourage communities not only to speak the language of their ancestors, but also to pass it down to their children and grandchildren, both in the home and at school. This requires support, hard work and perseverance. It requires ajuinnata.

And there are signs of hope. Some communities have been successful at breathing new life into their languages. And Canadians are starting to see the importance of the preservation and promotion of Indigenous languages as a way forward for reconciliation. Languages are not only central to identity, culture, spirituality, worldview and history, as we can see, but they are also a fundamental and human right for Indigenous peoples.

Whether we speak these languages or not, we are all responsible for this unique part of our country’s story—a story that could only be told with the nuance and distinctiveness of linguistic diversity. In fact, to allow these languages to slip into anonymity is to lose the great diversity in this country.

On this day and every day, let us uplift Indigenous languages, so Indigenous peoples can speak them for many generations to come. And so we can continue to tell the true story of Canada in all its expressive wonder.

Mary Simon

Media information:
Rideau Hall Press Office

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