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The Language Rights Canada Conference is envisioned to be a gathering place for language rights stakeholders – individuals, institutions and organizations (profit, non-profit, NGOs), academia and various levels of government interested in official, Indigenous and non-official languages spoken in Canada to provide opportunities to meet, share, learn from each other and collaborate on projects that promote  language rights advocacy.

The very first 2020 Conference will take place virtually, although the majority of our coalition members as well as our core team are physically is based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the most linguistically diverse city in Canada with over 50 percent of the population being born outside of the City and speaking a first language other than English.




Although Language Rights Conference and Festival acknowledges participation and contribution of many participants across different traditional territories in Canada and the world, we particularly acknowledge the land we began on - the City of Toronto - that is covered by Treaty 13 with the Mississaugas of the Credit and the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and now is home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

Language Advocacy Day
Min Sook Lee



Min Sook Lee is a Canadian documentary filmmaker, screenwriter and political activist. She has directed numerous critically-acclaimed feature documentaries, including: Donald Brittain Gemini winner Tiger Spirit, Hot Docs Best Canadian Feature winner Hogtown, Gemini nominated El Contrato and Canadian Screen Award winner, The Real Inglorious Bastards. In 2012, the Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts named the Min Sook Lee Labour Arts Award in Lee's honour for her contribution to the cause of migrant workers, citing her work to "engage non-arts audiences, and that challenges Eurocentric notions of art"

​Lee is an Associate Professor at OCAD University, her area of research and practice focuses on the critical intersections of art+social change in labour, border politics, migration and social justice movements. 

Conference Panels

Panel 1: Reflections on the Indigenous Languages Act

The Indigenous Languages Act, which was developed with the overall purpose to to support the efforts of Indigenous Peoples to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages, received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019. The Act indicates that the Government of Canada is “committed to providing adequate, sustainable and long-term funding to achieve the overall objective of reclaiming, revitalizing, maintaining and strengthening Indigenous languages” in consultations with Indigenous Peoples. The panelists will provide an overview of the status of Indigenous languages as well as a critique of the legislation.



Moderator:  Lorena Fontaine, LL.B., LL.M., PhD

Lorena is Cree-Anishinabe and a member of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. She is the Indigenous Academic Lead and an associate professor in the Department of Indigenous Studies at the University of Winnipeg. Her PhD research is on Aboriginal language rights in Canada was produced in a CBC documentary entitled “Undoing Linguicide” which was awarded the 2017 RTDNA Adrienne Clarkson Award. Her most recent publication “Our Languages are Sacred: Indigenous Language Rights in Canada” is contained in a collection of essays that reflects the recommendations of Indigenous legal scholars and policy leaders on how Canada can braid together a new legal framework through the implementation of UN Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples.


Andrea Bear

Andrea Bear Nicholas

Andrea Bear Nicholas, Maliseet from Nekotkok (Tobique First Nation), NB, is a professor emeritus at St. Thomas University. She spent most of her career as chair in Native Studies at the university, and also established a Native Language Immersion Teacher Training program and an Adult Immersion program in Maliseet.

Amos Key

Amos Key Jr.

Amos is Director of First Nations  Languages at Woodland Centre, where he co-founded the  Gawenni: yo Cayuga/ Mohawk Immersion School System. He was central to the creation of the digital archive of Onkwehonweh  Ceremony and Rituals, the publication of a Cayuga Dictionary, and the ongoing restoration of the former Mohawk Institute Indian  Residential School.

David Leatch

David's area of interest are linguistic rights, particularly section 23 of the Charter which guarantees francophones outside Quebec the right to educate their children in French in publicly funded schools. Building on an earlier article  David published an article in 2006 arguing that section 35 can and should be interpreted to include the right of aboriginal parents to have their children educated in their own languages.

Ian Martin

Ian Martin

Ian is Associate Professor in the Department of English at Glendon College and a keen supporter of the Canadian Language Museum (CLM). Ian  organized an outstanding three-day colloquium at Glendon on the “Indigenous Language Policy Implications of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission” on Canada’s Indigenous language policies.


Karihwakeron Tim Thompson 

Tim is from the bear clan family of the Mohawk Nation at Wáhta Mohawk Territory. A lifelong language learner with experience as the Director of Education and the Director of Languages for the Assembly of First Nations, and past President and CAO of First Nations Technical Institute, he currently serves as the Chair of the International Indigenous Recognition of Prior Learning Collective (IIRPLC). 

David Leitch, L.B., LL.M.

Panel 2: Pandemic Communication and Language Gaps

Immigrant and refugee-serving organizations, as well as other organizations working with immigrants, are often system navigators and points of reference for newcomers and local communities. During the pandemic and the shift to remote/digital work, this role had two important sides. One was helping newcomers understand the supports available to them from the government and understanding how they could access supports from agencies. The second was providing useful, authoritative, up-to-date, and relevant information about COVID itself, and how to deal with the pandemic. The second has been and remains a significant challenge. Misinformation and disinformation has flowed at unprecedented rates during the pandemic. Community organizations, health care providers, and communities themselves have struggled with both a lack of formal system support (i.e. government) as well as a changing information landscape. This panel will focus on promising practices and lessons learned during the past year, including gaps and unaddressed issues in the creation and distribution of effective multilingual information, and what needs to come next.




George Abraham

George is a founder-publisher & executive director of New Canadian Media who brings 30 years of writing and newsroom management experience.

He began his journalism career with The Times of India in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), followed by stints at the Khaleej Times in Dubai and as managing editor of The Peninsula in Qatar. A journalist with high ethical standards, George won the prestigious Nieman scholarship at Harvard University (1994-95), and more recently, pursued a Master’s in Journalism at Carleton University (2004).


Sukhmeet Sachal

Sukhmeet Sachal is the University of British Columbia medical student and co-founder of the COVID-19 Sikh Gurdwara Initiative provides a front-line community-led effort to ensure people have authoritative COVID-19 information. Since starting the project this past summer, Sachal and a network of more than 100 volunteers have taken a number of steps to ensure public health measures are introduced to people attending the Gurdwara with cultural awareness in mind.

Louisa Taylor

Louisa Taylor

Louisa is a communications professional and non-profit leader who thrives on bringing diverse people together to spark connection, strategic thinking and innovation for social change. At Refugee 613, she leads a small, dynamic team and an extensive network of partners working toward a welcoming world where everyone can thrive by convening and strategic communications to build stronger communities.


Moderator:  Marco Campana

Over the past 28 years Marco Campana has worked in some form of newcomer-serving sector communications and digital services, from front-line client service to the first Settlement.Org Content Coordinator. He created and managed the Settlement AtWork site, launching OCASI’s Learn AtWork online learning site for sector workers, and has participated in a number of efforts to enhance sector knowledge mobilization. He led digital/social media strategy work at Maytree, and most recently works as a freelance consultant helping agencies harness technology in client service delivery. His current focus is on digital transformation, demystifying technology in social services/social change, immigration, diversity & inclusion in Toronto. He believes technology is a means to an end.



Howard Lichtman is the co-founder of Ethnicity Matters, Canada’s leading authority in multicultural marketing and communications, a past President of The Lightning Group and Executive VP of Marketing Communications at Cineplex, the Taste of the Danforth and the American Express Front of the Line program sponsorship program.

Howard is a JD, MBA, occasional facilitator of the Ryerson’ on How to Launch an e-Business, past Vice Chair of the Ontario Science Centre, and currently serving on the Board of Exhibition Place and The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. 




Lindsay Keegitah Borrows has ancestral roots spread across England, some of whom came to Canada as early colonial settlers, and others as more recent Canadian immigrants. She is also of Anishinaabe descent and is a citizen of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation, located in southwestern Ontario. Her work as a lawyer, writer and teacher focuses on supporting Indigenous communities to revitalize their traditional laws for application in a contemporary context.


In addition to law, her passion for story-telling and language revitalization led her to publish a book of creative non-fiction entitled, “Otter’s Journey through Indigenous Language and Law” (UBC Press, 2018). 

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