Glendon endorses historic Truth & Reconciliation Declaration on Indigenous Language Policy

Glendon’s Faculty Council has voted unanimously to “endorse and adopt the principles” of the Glendon Truth & Reconciliation Declaration on Indigenous Language Policy document.

The vote took place on Jan. 27 in front of a capacity audience in the Glendon Council Chamber.

Glendon Truth & Reconciliation Declaration on Indigenous Language Policy document is the product of a national Colloquium on Indigenous Language Policy that took place at the Glendon campus on Feb. 9, 2015. The colloquium was opened by Phil Fontaine, the former Assembly of First Nations Chief, and brought together 82 Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars and language activists from across Canada. They gathered to answer three calls to action made by the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The three calls ask the federal government to grant Indigenous Language rights as part of the Canadian Constitution, to bring in an Indigenous Languages Act, and to create an Office of Indigenous Languages Commissioner. A fourth call, urging Canadian postsecondary institutions to create programs and diplomas in Indigenous Languages, was folded into the second part of the document titled, “Related Responsibilities of Postsecondary Educational Institutions”.

Glendon’s declaration, which is written in English, French, Anishinaabemowin, Kanienkéha, Inuinnaqtun and Inuktitut, received 100 individual and institutional endorsers from across Canada. With the vote, Glendon formally endorses the declaration and commits to adopting its principles, of which there are seven. The principles are:

  • developing collaborative funding models;
  • developing a committee to respond to TRC Calls to Action;
  • community-building between the university and Indigenous communities and community-based Indigenous organizations;
  • developing cross-training across university administrators,
  • developing cross-training across university administrators, programs and faculty;
  • recognizing and honouring the varying qualifications and credentials of Indigenous people;
  • creating the certification of postsecondary programs that include Indigenous languages, and
  • providing Indigenous cultural competency training for all postsecondary governors/regents, administrators, faculty and staff.

The declaration was formally launched at Glendon on Nov. 18, 2016, as a featured event of the International Conference on Language and Culture Contact. Within the month, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau announced that his government was committed to bringing in an Indigenous Languages Act during 2017.

Above: The principal authors of the declaration hold a replica of a 1617 peace wampum that symbolizes intercultural rapproachment and mutual respect. Pictured from the left are: Jean Michel Montsion, Ian Martin, Maya Chacaby and Amos Key Jr.

The principal authors of the Glendon declaration and its follow-up strategy are: Maya Chacaby (sessional lecturer, Glendon Linguistics and Sociology); Amos Key Jr. (Woodland Cultural Centre and lecturer, Indigenous Studies, University of Toronto and former sessional lecturer, Glendon Linguistics); Glendon political science Professor Jean Michel Montsion and Glendon English Professor Ian Martin (both of the Glendon School of Public & International Affairs). The group is currently involved in ongoing collaboration with the federal ministries in an effort to contribute to the successful creation of the Indigenous Languages Act, which will be the first piece of legislation in Canadian history to recognize the need to promote and protect the flourishing of the languages of the First Nations, Métis and the Inuit.

To learn more, visit http://www.glendon.yorku.ca/crlcc/indigenous-languages/.

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