1.2 The project

In the last few years a number of things related to literacy have changed:

  • The Literacy Council has grown and expanded our services, especially in family literacy and resource development.
  • Today, the public is more aware of how important literacy is.
  • There is a feeling of urgency around efforts to preserve Aboriginal languages.
  • The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has handed over the responsibility and accompanying resources for Aboriginal language development to the different language communities.
  • Each language community has developed a multi–year plan to revitalize its language.
  • The GNWT has recently released several strategies that include literacy and Aboriginal languages. These list the NWT Literacy Council as a partner in a number of initiatives.
  • The GNWT has set up a Special Committee to Review the Official Languages Act. The committee is asking people what changes are needed to make sure the Act meets the needs of people in the NWT.

To help us adapt to these changes and provide better support to Aboriginal languages, we decided it was time to examine our role in Aboriginal literacy. We began by doing some background research so that we were familiar with the issues. We looked at the importance of language in people's lives, and at the current health of Aboriginal languages in Canada and the NWT. We then identified some issues around literacy, in particular around Aboriginal literacy. We also looked at efforts to support Aboriginal languages and literacy: strategies other literacy coalitions have adopted, funding for language activities, strategies the GNWT has, as well as the Aboriginal language communities' own plans for their languages.