Reclaiming and revitalizing Indigenous languages

This week we're looking at the work being done to reclaim Indigenous languages — and a few of the successes and challenges faced.
This week on Unreserved, we hear from language learners and speakers on how they're maintaining their Indigenous language. (CBC, Submitted by Lorna Williams, Ariel Fournier, Robert Short)

In the United Nations' International Year of Indigenous Languages, work to strengthen ties between Indigenous people and their languages is being highlighted all across the world.

This week on Unreserved, we look at the work being done to reclaim those Indigenous languages — and a few of the successes and challenges faced.

When she was asked to write a companion book to Mi'kmaw poet Rita Joe's iconic and powerful poem, I Lost My Talk, Rebecca Thomas felt like she had say yes. She wrote I'm Finding My Talk and dedicated it to her dad, who went to the same residential school that Joe attended.

Indigenous languages in urban centres are often more challenging to maintain. As Lorna Williams and Daniel Kaufman explain, disconnection from homeland and invisibility can make language work difficult for Indigenous people. 

As part of the International Year of Indigenous Languages, Unreserved introduced a podcast called First Words, a series that introduces listeners to people who are fluent in their Indigenous language — or are still on their journey to learn. Jordan Konek, a reporter for CBC North in Iqaluit who speaks Inuktitut, shares why language is important to him.

Dodie Malegana broadcasts Tusaavik, an Inuviakluktun language show, to her hometown and nearby five days a week. She lives in Edmonton, but uses the show as a way to connect with her community in Aklavik, NWT. The show teaches the language for listeners who didn't grow up with it — but Malegana's own story about how she started speaking her language on-air has a little twist. The CBC's Katie Toth brings us that story. 

As more young Indigenous people try to learn their language, technology has emerged as a critical tool. CBC's Kaitlyn Swan shows us The Language Keeper, a Mi'kmaw language resource that's helped young people learn.

This week's playlist: 

Jeremy Dutcher. (Logan Perley/CBC)

Twin Flames — Human
Jeremy Dutcher — Sakomawit
Riit — Imiqtaq
Shauit — Eshku Inniu Innu