Sarkar & Lavoie (2014). Language Education and Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.

Sarkar, M., & Lavoie, C. (2014). Language Education and Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. In D. Gorter, V. Zenotz, & J. Cenoz (Eds.), Minority Languages and Multilingual Education (pp. 85–103). Dordrecht: Springer.

[Abstract …]

“… contemporary Indigenous policies, programs and pedagogical strategies around language education are presented, …. Drawing on data from a language maintenance project in a Quebec Innu community and a language revitalization project in a Mi’gmaq community in the Maritimes …” (p 85)

[Historical context and future of Indigenous languages in Canada. (p 86)]

[Observations from Innu and Mi’gmaq experiences against English and French linguistic colonization. (p 86)]

[Terminology (p 87) …]

“In line with internationally recognized usage … the term we prefer for the first human inhabitants of a given territory is _Indigenous_. … in Canadian official discourse the term _Aboriginal_ is preferred. In Canadian government parlance, ‘Aboriginal’ is used to cover First Nations, Inuit and Métis (INAC 2002). … Although many consider _Native_, as either a noun or an adjective, somewhat dated, it is still not uncommon to hear Indigenous Canadians referred to as ‘Natives’, and perhaps even more common to hear _non_-Indigenous Canadians referred to as ‘non-Native’ in everyday speech.” (p 87)

“The term ‘First Nations’, however, refers not to one ethnolinguistic identity but to several dozen, and specifically excludes Inuit and Métis.” (p 87)

[Pejoratives (p 88)]

[Earliest human settlement of N/S America. (p 88)]

[Language diversity and spread (p 88)]

[Early cooperation/assistance of Indigenous people toward European settlers (p 89)]

[Good relations through trade until 19th century. Industrialization and European powers desire to control land. (p 89)]

[1867 Indian Act and overt attempts at genocide. …]

“The educational provisions led to a policy of overt assimilation designed to ‘kill the Indian in the child’. The intent of this unsuccessful and ultimately disastrous policy was to eliminate Canada’s ‘Indian problem’ within a couple of generations.” (p 90)

[Abuses of the Residential School system. Designed to separate children from families and cultural/linguistic communities. (p 90)]

[Enduring social damage (p 90)]

[Recovery vs modernity? …]

“… so many Indigenous peoples — and, even more impressively, their languages — have in fact survived into the twenty-first century. As we will see, the process of recovery is now under way. But forces of modernization and globalization may yet succeed, ironically, in ‘pulling’ Indigenous youth away from their cultural roots, even though generations of brutal official ‘pushing’ did not quite manage to destroy their parents’ and grandparents’ link to their ancestral identities.” (p 91)

[Inadequate support in education and other areas. …]

“… it is still the case that Indigenous Canadians are seriously underschooled compared to the non-Indigenous population, and can, in fact, be compared to developing-country populations on many other measures, such as access to clean water, health care, decent housing, and employment opportunities (Salée et al. 2006).” (p 91)

[Indigenous control of education (1972). But language attrition over three generations, and influence of television. …]

“_Indian Control of Indian Education_ was the title of a landmark 1972 policy paper used successfully by the Indigenous leadership to put pressure on the federal government. … A ‘three-generation’ sequence is often described under colonialism. Grandparents, living traditional lifestyles, are monolingual in the ancestral language, parents [page break] become bilingual as a result of the pressures of schooling or employment, and grandchildren are monolingual in the colonial language (Nettle and Romaine 2000). … almost certainly aided by the advent of television and the resulting presence in every home of a source of non-stop English input (J. Vicaire, personal communication, September 2008).” (p 91-92)

[Linguistic choices …]

“The present situation as far as the languages of schooling … two factors: Is the Indigenous language still being passed down to children through intergenerational transmission? Does the community want its members to be fluent in the Indigenous language as well as the colonial language?” (p 92)

[Monolingual are challenged by media incursion. Use of colonial languages is of “Indigenized” variety. …]

“If the children are bilingual in the colonial language as well, this may be an Indigenized variety (Peltier 2010; Sterzuk 2011) rather than the mainstream variety required for school success.” (p 92)

[Without language, a superficial cultural education? (p 92)]

[Need to understand/anticipate language shift. (p 92)]

[Conditions for language revitalization. …]

“… the community is losing or has lost the language, but hopes to re-establish it as a community language, at least in certain domains — then the [page break] way is open for language revitalization initiatives.” (p 92-93)

[Solely colonial language schools or early years Indigenous language. (p 93)]

[Immersion model appears to have been successful in cases. (p 93)]

[Third, preferred model depending on language vitality in community. (p 94)]

“… additive-bilingual model. … this model as the most desirable one for all Indigenous children, just as many educators would promote some form of additive-bilingual education for _all_ children regardless of ethnolinguistic origin (Cummins 2000; Lo Bianco 1987).” (p 94)

[Possibility to teach third language as subject for tri-lingual outcomes. (p 94)]

[Possibilities but not enough data on tri-lingual option. (p 94)]

[Quebec and colonial languages in Canada. (p 95)]

[Quebec language policy and debate. (p 95)]

[Research sites …]

“In both communities a language belonging to the Algonquian family is spoken — Innu in Unamen Shipu, Mi’gmaq in Listuguj. … In Unamen Shipu, Innu is the main language of the community, and the challenge for educators is to ensure that children acquire a colonial language — here, French — well enough to have access to education outside the community if they wish it. In Listuguj, Mi’gmaq is in danger of being lost, and the usual language of the community and the school is a colonial language — here, English.” (p 95)

[“… the Indigenous Language Is the Community Language …” (p 95) …]

[Community language is Indigenous, but schooling focuses on French. …]

“Of the residents of Unamen Shipu, 99 %, from children through to elders, speak Innu. … Community educators have decided to prioritize French, the language of higher education and of employment opportunities in Quebec. While monolingualism in French is certainly not seen by the community as a goal of this policy, we maintain that over time there is a danger of community language shift.” (p 96)

[Example of language learning crossover. (p 96)]

[Multimodal learning in two languages, “indigenizing the curriculum.” (p 96)]

[“… the Colonial Language Is the Community Language …” (p 97) …]

[Adult language learning grounded in Indigenous approach. (p 97)]

[Describing Indigenous language teaching methods for adults. (p 97)]

[Language is connected to family and community life. (p 97)]

[Example of one adult learner using Indigenous language skills to interact with elders in a significant way. (p 97-98)]

[“New Population Movement, New Technologies, a New Demographics for Indigenous Peoples” (p 98) …]

[Indigenous Canadians moving to cities. (p 98)]

[Although geographically dispersed, better resources and networks available …]

“Proximity to better schools and services may enable growing networks of language learners to team up with educators to develop innovative approaches to Indigenous language revitalization.” (p 98)

[Using IT and social media …]

“Many such sites can be in operation for shorter or longer periods of time, uniting learners on a pragmatic basis in fluid and changing configurations; younger learners more at ease with the technology can and do team up with older fluent speakers to create and manage digital language learning resources.” (p 99)

[Intl use of tech for language revitalization …]

“Mainstream media are making a wider public aware of endangered languages and ways in which technology can help them (for example, Amos 2012).” (p 99)

[Young demographic (p 99)]

[Case for inclusive Canadian education system (p 100)]

[Policies needed to honour preserve ancestral languages, contributing to a richer Canada. (p 100)]

[Urbanization of young Indigenous people is a risk to language sustainability. (p 100)]

“‘Reversing Language Shift’ model of the kind theorized and amply documented by Fishman (2001).” (p 100)

[Language as social asset. Pedagogical models identified. (p 101)]

Selected References

  • Amos, J. 2012. Digital tools ‘to save languages’. BBC News — Science & Environment, 18 February. Accessed 11 Mar 2012.
  • Cummins, J. 2000. Language, power, and pedagogy: Bilingual children in the crossfire. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
  • Fishman, J.A. 2001. Can threatened languages be saved? Reversing language shift, revisited: A 21st century perspective. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
  • Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). 2002. Words first: An evolving terminology relating to Aboriginal peoples in Canada. (n.p.): Communications Branch, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Accessed 11 Mar 2012.
  • Lo Bianco, J. 1987. National policy on languages. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.
  • Nettle, D., and S. Romaine. 2000. Vanishing voices: The extinction of the world’s languages. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Peltier, S. 2010. Facilitating language and literacy learning for students with Aboriginal English dialects. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 32(Supplement: Aboriginal Englishes and Education): 114–142.
  • Salée, D., with the assistance of D. Newhouse and C. Lévesque. 2006. Quality of life of Aboriginal people in Canada: An analysis of current research. IRPP Choices 12(6). Accessed 11 Mar 2011.
  • Sterzuk, A. 2011. The struggle for legitimacy. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
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