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N.S. introduces legislation to enshrine Mi'kmaq as province's first official language

This bill establishes a joint committee to create a multi-year strategy for protecting the language
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From left, Blaire Gould, Executive Director, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey; L’nu Affairs Minister Karla MacFarlane; Chief Leroy Denny, Eskasoni First Nation and Chair, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey; and Justin Huston, CEO of L’nu Affairs, meet before the bill is introduced

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s government is introducing legislation to enshrine Mi’kmaq as the province’s first official language. 

Karla MacFarlane, minister of L’nu affairs, said today the Mi'kmaw Language Act develops a revitalization strategy to promote and preserve the language of the First Nations people who live in the province.

This bill establishes a joint committee to create a multi-year strategy for protecting the language.

The legislation will be proclaimed on a date agreed upon with Mi'kmaq leadership, and it will take effect on Oct. 1, which is Treaty Day.

Eskasoni First Nation Chief Leroy Denny said today he’s very excited about the bill, adding that “it is a big first step but there is still a lot of work to be done.”

Denny says he’s eager to work with “elders, knowledge keepers, language warriors,” as well as with the province to bring this legislation forward. 

Brian Gould, executive director of Mi'kmaq education authority Mi’kmaw Kina'matnewey, says they are seeing language loss in communities, but “most importantly we are seeing a language resurgence in communities where youth and community people are actively in pursuit of restoring their language and culture.”

“This legislation will help strengthen that,” he says. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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