MISSION & HISTORY.
Language rights protect the rights of individuals and groups to choose which language(s) they use in private as well as in public interactions, such as legal, health, educational or political access to information and services. Language rights are also a tool of identity, and an important social determinant of health. Many nations, including Canada, may not deliberately discriminate against minority languages or those not deemed not to be the “official” ones, but if broader language access is not strategically enabled, organizations and individuals end up being excluded and discriminated against based on their language comprehension and fluency.
While advocacy for equality of access for ALL languages does not have a long history in Canada, worldwide efforts to promote universal linguistic rights while monitoring the state of minority and indigenous languages has been ongoing for fifty years (Minority and Indigenous Trends, 2019). The constantly changing and evolving views on “language access“, influenced by migration patterns and technology, has been developing against a historical trend of tying language to national identity and borders.
Here in Canada, the recently co-developed National First Nations, Inuit and Métis Languages Act (Bill C-91) that recognized the rights of Indigenous languages not only expanded our national conversation around “official languages”, but also challenged the status quo to reimagine what access in all other languages carried by the waves of immigration to Canada since 18th century onward could be.
The idea of a Language Advocacy Day in Canada was largely inspired by the efforts of the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL), which has hosted National Language Day in Washington, DC for over 40 years, and supported by the initial investment of the MCIS Language Solutions’ Social Benefit Fund. The core team Language Advocacy Day team is lucky to have support from a number of organizations, including early partners such as those listed below.
Alongside our local network of 25+ organizations and businesses that signed up to actively support the initiative, we work with a range of partners who, like us, are passionate about building a more inclusive and accessible Canada.
Through joint publishing, research and resource sharing, we look for ways to help our partners contribute to shared agendas. Contact us to learn more about how to get involved.
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