Saskatoon

Sask. NDP candidate wants national leaders debate to be translated into Dene, Michif

A candidate running for the NDP in northern Saskatchewan is calling for Monday's federal leaders debate to be translated into Dene and Michif.

Georgina Jolibois says it's important for people hear their own language

La Loche-based NDP candidate Georgina Jolibois wants Dene and Michif translation of the English federal leaders' debate. (Alicia Bridges/CBC News)

A candidate running for the NDP in northern Saskatchewan is calling for Monday's federal leaders debate to be translated into Dene and Michif.

While the debate is being translated into Plains Cree, Inuktitut and Ojibwe, Georgina Jolibois says it's important for people in her riding to hear their own language.

"It is a very meaningful thing for all Dene people throughout Canada to hear their language at the national level," said Jolibois, running in the riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River.

Jolibois has long advocated hearing more Indigenous languages spoken at the federal\ level. In March 2018, she delivered a speech in Dene at the House of Commons, which was then translated by an interpreter.

She says it was the first time anyone had used a Dene language translator for government business.

The candidate says having the English debate translated into Dene and Michif would be very important across the North.

"When I spoke in the House of Commons in Dene, the comments I received from Dene speakers across Canada were incredible," she said. "They were very proud."

Jolibois says she has been in contact with the Leaders' Debates Commission and asked them in a letter last week for the translation.

When I spoke in the House of Commons in Dene, the comments I received from Dene speakers across Canada were incredible. They were very proud.​​​​​- NDP candidate Georgina Jolibois

She says she understands the commission wouldn't be able to accommodate the request for the English leaders' debate.

Dene translation will be avaliable in time for the French leadership debate on Thursday.

However, she says, she understands part of Monday night's debate would focus on Indigenous issues, making its translation even more important.

"People are really keen to hear about the Indigenous platforms from each political party," she said.

The Dene people are located in northern Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and Alaska.

Michif, the official language of the Métis people, is spoken in communities across Western Canada and the United States.

Monday's federal leaders' debate will air on CBC television starting at 5 p.m. CT.