From generation to generation

Norris, M.J. & Jantzen, L. (2004, January). From generation to generation: Survival and maintenance of Canada’s aboriginal languages within families, communities and cities. This government report sponsored by Heritage Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada discusses the “survival and maintenance of Aboriginal languages in Canada from demographic and geographic perspectives.” The authors provide an overview and classification of Aboriginal languages (both endangered and viable), with demographic measures of language use, population size, and average age of speakers. Maps, references, and data (1981, 1996, and 2001 Censuses) are included.


Canada’s aboriginal languages

Norris, M.J. (1998, Winter). Canada’s aboriginal languages (Statistics Canada catalogue #11-008). Canadian Social Trends, 51, 8-16. This document presents a summary report of official government data on aboriginal languages and their speakers. The author details the criteria by which languages are classified as endangered or viable and discusses the outlook for Canada’s native languages. The document includes comprehensive maps, charts, and tables of data in addition to analysis and description of trends.Along with Generation to Generation, this report is an essential source for official information on the state of aboriginal languages in Canada. The document can be retrieved from the Statistics Canada website in PDF form.

Handbook For Aboriginal Language in British Columbia

Ignace, M.B. Aboriginal Language Program Handbook. (1998). This resource, produced by the First Nations Education Steering Committee in British Columbia is “intended to provide assistance to First Nations communities and organizations which want to design or expand their language programs.” It offers detailed information about native languages in British Columbia. In addition, it outlines reasons and approaches, such as educational methodologies and planning strategies, for language preservation that are applicable to any language in any country.

Atlas of Canada

The Atlas of Canada: Aboriginal languages. The Atlas of Canada is an important information resource produced by Natural Resources Canada. The online version contains a section devoted to indigenous languages, which features an interactive map of Canada that can be explored down to the community level. The site also includes background information about aboriginal languages and detailed data tables showing numbers of speakers, language knowledge level, and language status. In addition, the print version of the Atlas has a map showing the geographic extent of aboriginal languages.


Statistics Canada

Statistics Canada is a vital source of information about the speakers of endangered languages in Canada. The 2000 Census statistics that deal with aboriginal peoples can be viewed here, and tables about languages spoken are listed here. In addition, the Statistics Canada report entitled Aboriginal Peoples Survey 2001–initial findings: Well-being of the non-reserve aboriginal population (Catalogue no. 89-589-XIE; PDF file) contains a section that discusses the state of aboriginal languages according to data collected in the Aboriginal Peoples Survey, 2001. Both statistics and data analysis are provided in the areas of numbers and characteristics of speakers, evidence of decline, revitalization efforts, and second-language learning.

Toward a new beginning

Task Force on Aboriginal Languages and Cultures. (2005). Towards a new beginning: A foundational report for a strategy to revitalize First Nation, Inuit and Métis languages and cultures. This 160-page document discusses the state of aboriginal languages in Canada and makes detailed recommendations for government action, especially in relation to past and present actions. The report contains extensive information about the place of language in aboriginal cultures, moving beyond simply statistics to consider the larger context of the issue of language endangerment.

Kid Stop

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada’s Kids’ Stop website features a page where users can learn simple phrases in aboriginal languages and listen to audio clips of native speakers. The site does not contain a lot of background information, but it does represent government attempts to promote cultural awareness for children, which is an important component of language revitalization.

First Peoples on SchoolNet

SchoolNet is an education website hosted by Industry Canada. The site’s First Peoples division contains two sections devoted to information about aboriginal languages, one with general information and links pertaining to relevant organizations, websites, publications, etc. The other section is geared toward school-aged children and includes word and place name lists. (N.B. the currency of the hyperlinks is problematic; some are broken). The most interesting portion of both sections are the language audio samples that are available to download in different file formats.


Protective legislation for aboriginal languages

First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Education Centres. (1997). Protective legislation for aboriginal languages in Canada. This item is a statement and report from the First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Education Centres dealing with a language preservation initiative in Canada. The document outlines the need, precedents, framework, and recommendations for establishing protective legislation for aboriginal languages. This document was not produced by a government agency, but it is hosted on a government website (SchoolNet) and discusses government documents relevant to language preservation.


FirstVoices is a “suite of web-based tools and services designed to support Aboriginal people engaged in language archiving, language teaching & culture revitalization.” The site is not strictly a government information resource, as it is produced by the First Peoples Cultural Foundation, a public, non-profit organization. However, FirstVoices does receive government funding and other support in addition to public sector partnerships. The website content includes community profiles, detailed linguistic information, a children’s section, games, quizzes, picture slideshows, and audio files. A core part of the project is also to maintain archives of aboriginal languages, but some of this content requires a membership to view.



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