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Research Guides

Indigenous Languages

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action

 We call upon the federal government to acknowledge that Aboriginal rights include Aboriginal language rights.

Many of the TRC's calls to action pertain to Indigenous languages. The primary section on language rights is excerpted below. 

Language and culture

13. We call upon the federal government to acknowledge that Aboriginal rights include Aboriginal language rights.

14. We call upon the federal government to enact an Aboriginal Languages Act that incorporates the following principles:

i. Aboriginal languages are a fundamental and valued element of Canadian culture and society, and there is an urgency to preserve them.

ii. Aboriginal language rights are reinforced by the Treaties.

iii. The federal government has a responsibility to provide sufficient funds for Aboriginal-language revitalization and preservation.

iv. The preservation, revitalization, and strengthening of Aboriginal languages and cultures are best managed by Aboriginal people and communities.

v. Funding for Aboriginal language initiatives must reflect the diversity of Aboriginal languages.

15. We call upon the federal government to appoint, in consultation with Aboriginal groups, an Aboriginal Languages Commissioner. The commissioner should help promote Aboriginal languages and report on the adequacy of federal funding of Aboriginal-languages initiatives.

16. We call upon post-secondary institutions to create university and college degree and diploma programs in Aboriginal languages.

17. We call upon all levels of government to enable residential school Survivors and their families to reclaim names changed by the residential school system by waiving administrative costs for a period of five years for the name-change process and the revision of official identity documents, such as birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, health cards, status cards, and social insurance numbers.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples & Language Rights

UNDRIP, which has been endorsed by Canada, asserts Indigenous language rights. Here are some excerpts.

Article 13 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.

2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that this right is protected and also to ensure that indigenous peoples can understand and be understood in political, legal and administrative proceedings, where necessary through the provision of interpretation or by other appropriate means.

Article 14 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.

2. Indigenous individuals, particularly children, have the right to all levels and forms of education of the State without discrimination.

3. States shall, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, take effective measures, in order for indigenous individuals, particularly children, including those living outside their communities, to have access, when possible, to an education in their own culture and provided in their own language.

Article 16 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish their own media in their own languages and to have access to all forms of non-indigenous media without discrimination.

Start with a journal database

Finding books in library catalogues

You can use keywords to find books in the library catalogue.  Examples:

indigenous language revitalization

aboriginal language revival

preserving languages

language policy

oneida language study

endangered languages

native languages curriculum

inuktitut texts

michif dictionaries



ojibwa bibliographies

Unfortunately there is no single set of keywords that is likely to bring you everything that you want. You may need to experiment. 

Here are some example, popular searches. 

Finding Theses or Dissertations

Many theses have been written on the subject of Indigenous languages and revitalization. Nowadays, Canadian and American theses are often published directly on the Web. To find out what theses have been written, try searching google, or another search engine, using keywords for the language and the word thesis or dissertaion. Examples:

anishinaabemowin thesis

ojibwe dissertation

kanien’kéha dissertation

mohawk language thesis

There are also databases that you can search for theses. See a brief list below.