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Language and Culture (13-17)

The Glendon Truth and Reconciliation Declaration on Indigenous Languages

February 9, 2016

On February 9, 2016, eighty-two Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars gathered together at Glendon College, York University, for a national Colloquium on the implications for Indigenous language policy of the TRC Report of December, 2015. Notably, the gathering was opened by former National Chief Phil Fontaine and attended by invited speakers, indigenous language policy researchers and practitioners from five provinces and one territory, federal and Ontario government officials, and media observers. The aim of the Colloquium was to address the implications for Indigenous Language Policy in Canada of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada and for the related responsibilities of post-secondary educational Institutions. In both the morning plenary and in afternoon working groups, the participants addressed the following three Calls to Action of the TRC final report and the fourth topic, the related responsibilities of post-secondary institutions.


We declare that, to truly celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada in 2017,

  1. The Crown and Her Federal Government must formally acknowledge, without the need for litigation, that Section 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 includes Indigenous Linguistic Rights
  2. The Crown and Her Federal government must enact an Indigenous Languages Act. In doing so, it can be guided by the Report of the 2005 Task Force on Aboriginal Languages and Cultures, which responds to each of the five principles required by the TRC Report.
  3. The Crown and Her Federal Government in enacting an Indigenous Language Act must create an Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages, with three national Indigenous Language Commissioners, one for the First Nations, one for the Inuit, and one for the Métis, with an ancillary staff complement comparable to that of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, and a Commissioner’s representative located in each Indigenous Nation and/or Territory to assist with the carrying out of the intent of the Indigenous Language Act.
  4. All of the above recommendations are subject to consultation with the three Aboriginal groups, First Nations, Inuit and Métis as identified in the Constitution Act, 1982, in a manner which respects the principle of free, prior and informed consent.

With respect to the Related Responsibilities of Post-Secondary Institutions, we further declare that:

  1. Post-secondary Institutions must develop collaborative funding models to support Indigenous language initiatives open to research, pedagogy, and partnerships.
  2. TRC Committees must be established in all post-secondary institutions
  3. Post-secondary institutions must engage in Community building: both inside the university and between the institution and Indigenous communities and Indigenous community-based organizations
  4. Varying qualifications and credentials of Indigenous people must be recognized and honoured
  5. There must be cross-training and collaboration across university administrations, programs and faculty
  6. Post-secondary institutions must develop programs in Indigenous language studies with a view to promoting full oral proficiency and literacy in Indigenous languages, with certification through college and university diplomas and degrees in Indigenous languages.
  7. There must be Indigenous Cultural Competency Training for all post-secondary institutions which would include Governors/Regents, Administration, Faculty and Staff.