Indigenous Languages Month – February 2021

Indigenous Languages Month – February 2021

“Traditionally, education was not schooling. Learning for survival happened during all the waking hours, each and every day, and all life long. Learning occurred through life experience—not in abstraction or set apart from on-going life activities.”

-    Dene Kede [K-6], 1993, p. xxvi

This year, the NWT Literacy Council is once again coordinating the annual Indigenous Languages Month (ILM), a promotion and celebration of Indigenous languages in the NWT. This year’s theme is “Cook With Me,” a call to action for residents to connect with loved ones in the kitchen, indoors or outdoors. As a Dene person, learning my language of Dene Zhatié is incredibly important to me, and I am grateful to be doing work that aligns with my values and personal goals.

On February 1, we will be launching an online campaign on Facebook and Instagram  that will prompt followers to share their languages via written posts and video submissions. Everyone who engages with our posts in their language will be entered into draws for prizes. Keep an eye on our pages and consider a fluent language speaker you could connect with if you are a beginner. 

Some of our prizes will be items that are also being sent to all 33 NWT communities. They will be kitchen-themed and sourced from Erasmus Apparel and Artech Engrave. The NWT Literacy Council is proud to support local Indigenous and allied businesses. Máhsıcho to Sarah Erasmus and Jane Arychuk for providing us with quality products, and for their enthusiasm towards the north and the promotion of the Indigenous languages spoken here.

During the month of February, we will also be promoting the amazing language and education work that is being done across our Territory, including curriculums, the Mentor Apprentice Program, Facebook groups, podcasts, and other exciting resources.

Last year, arrangements were being made for an Indigenous Languages Gathering that was cancelled due to the current global pandemic. If restrictions are lifted as a result of the COVID-19 vaccine, we may be able to go forward with what was planned previously. 

The gathering, when it does take place, will include a cartoon dubbing workshop for youth wanting to see their language in pop culture. It involves removing English audio from an existing video and replacing it with an Indigenous language – inspired by Ojibway youth, Westin Sutherland. It is a method used around the world for learning a new language and will include working with elders and language speakers, fostering stronger connections between youth and community members. 

Here’s to a better, more beautiful future. Máhsıcho.

Coleen Hardisty, Youth Literacy Coordinator

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