UN speaks on the loss of Indigenous languages

January 3, 2019 11:00 am
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The United Nations (UN) chooses a topic of global importance every year for which to raise awareness. This year, for 2019, they have chosen indigenous languages, as Sarah Rogers reports in her article.

The UN aims to shine a light on the world’s estimated 7,000 indigenous languages, especially the 2,680 in danger of disappearing. In a news release, the organization spoke about how languages play a crucial role, not only in communication, but also in preserving cultural history, traditions, and memory. Despite their importance, languages are vanishing all over the world.

Canada’s language at risk: Inuktut

Inuktut, the umbrella term for the dialects spoken across Canada’s Inuit regions, is an example of a language at risk. In the northern Quebec’s Nunavik region, 99% of Inuit state they can speak Inuktut. However, Statistics Canada found that the percentage is as low as 21% in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Nunatsiavut region.

In Nunavut, 89% of Inuit said that they can speak Inuktitut. However, a 2017 report found that the use of Inuktut in Nunavut home is falling at about 12% per decade. Simultaneously, the use of English at home has been increasing from 28% in 1991 to 46% in 2011.

The United Nations is collaborating with UNESCO to bring awareness of the global risks of indigenous languages loss. As well, the organization hopes that awareness will motivate people to work towards preservation of these disappearing languages.

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This post was written by Helen