Revitalizing and Decolonizing Indigenous Languages
As Dene Elder Paul Disain once said, “Our language and culture is the window through which we see the world.” To fully understand Indigenous cultures and appreciate the richness of their intellectual and spiritual traditions, we need to create and access opportunities to learn Indigenous languages.
Sadly, all of the approximately 60 Indigenous languages spoken today in Canada are endangered or vulnerable. But this statistic doesn’t mean all Indigenous languages are doomed. On the contrary, Dr. Lindsay Morcom believes it is a call to action to inspire us to work harder to ensure that Indigenous languages survive, thrive and are passed on to future generations.
As Canada Research Chair in Language Revitalization and Decolonizing Education, Morcom is trying to achieve this by identifying the most effective strategies for language revitalization.
In particular, she and her research team are looking at the decolonization of education, since some of the most effective approaches for language revitalization involve inclusion of Indigenous languages in school environments, with immersion being the gold standard. She will also look at opportunities to learn in formal and informal settings that emphasize intergenerational language learning and use of Indigenous languages at home, work and play.
Morcom’s research responds directly to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which require us to protect Indigenous languages and ensure there are opportunities to learn and preserve them at all levels and life stages.