Indigenous

United Nations declares International Decade of Indigenous Languages

As the International Year of Indigenous Languages comes to an end, the United Nations has declared an International Decade of Indigenous Languages, to begin in 2022.

'One year is simply not enough,' says AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde

National Chief Perry Bellegarde speaks to the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

As the International Year of Indigenous Languages comes to an end, the United Nations has declared an International Decade of Indigenous Languages, to begin in 2022.

The resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly Dec. 18 "to draw attention to the critical loss of Indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalize, and promote Indigenous language" and to "take urgent steps at the national and international levels."

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization will serve as the lead agency for the International Decade, in collaboration with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the Secretariat.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde welcomed the announcement, saying languages are identity, wisdom and worldview.

"The International Decade of Indigenous Languages demonstrates a strong international commitment to restore, support and strengthen Indigenous languages," he said in a statement.

"The International Year of Indigenous Languages was a good start, but one year is simply not enough when we're talking about diverse cultural heritages facing such grave threats. Let's continue to work together to get this important work done."

Bellegarde was at the UN Headquarters in New York City this week to participate in the closing of the year of Indigenous languages.

About the Author

Ka’nhehsí:io Deer is Kanien’kehá:ka from Kahnawake. She works in CBC's Indigenous unit based in Montreal. Email her at kanhehsiio.deer@cbc.ca or follow her on Twitter @Kanhehsiio.

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