Indigenous Languages and Literacies

The NWT has eleven official languages—nine of these are Indigenous: Gwich’in, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, Inuinnaqtun, North Slavey, South Slavey, Tlicho, Chipewyan and Cree. The health of these languages varies greatly, but most are endangered.

Our languages symbolize, in a very concrete way, the cultural group we belong to.  Language embodies culture:  we use it to define our world and make sense of it.  It shapes the way we look at the world, giving us our worldview.  We use language to transmit our culture and worldview from one generation to the next.  (Multiple Literacies, NWTLC)

The NWT Literacy Council supports literacy development in all the official languages of the NWT. We do this by working in partnerships with Indigenous language groups to produce a variety of materials in Indigenous languages. We also promote the languages, do research, and monitor government policy and funding for Indigenous languages.

Some things you can do to support your Indigenous language
  • Develop Indigenous language books and resources.
  • Use storytelling in your program and community.
  • Create fun games in your language and teach them to families.
  • Use your Indigenous language on the radio and in public places.
  • Encourage teachers and early childhood workers to speak to children and young people in your language on the playground and in the halls of the school.
  • Create posters with positive messages about speaking your Indigenous language.
  • Set up a language committee that promotes culture and language in your community.
  • Make a plan for maintaining and/or revitalizing your Indigenous language.
  • Encourage parents to speak their language in the family.
  • Celebrate Indigenous Languages Month with your family and community.