Yukon aboriginal groups push for traditional language use

Some Yukoners say that to revive traditional aboriginal languages, they should be used in aboriginal government offices and other workplaces.

Aboriginal groups in Yukon are looking at new ways to revive their languages.

Some say that if the languages are to survive, they need to be used every day.

Gary Johnson, who speaks Tlingit, says aboriginal governments should use the language in the office.

"What it means to me, self-government is [being] your own boss, so the thing that puzzles me is why the self-governments are not making it mandatory to have an hour, or half an hour of language studies every day," he said.

Edna Janet McDonald works with Yukon's department of education.

"We can encourage even within our own unit, to be answering the phone, just learning that much to introduce yourself. I think that all shows that we are using the language," she said.

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N.W.T. language commissioner Sarah Jerome agrees that for people to catch on, the language has to be seen and heard every day.

"Possibly setting up a mentorship program, but also to get the elders into the schools, into the workplace, and just have language-only speaking zones at the community level so that everybody has to start speaking their languages."

Other ideas include bilingual signs on streets and businesses.