This enactment recognizes the right of the aboriginal peoples of Canada to use, preserve, revitalize and promote their languages and expresses the Government of Canada’s commitment to preserve, revitalize and promote aboriginal languages in Canada by protecting them and using them where appropriate.
It requires the designated Minister to take measures to implement that commitment, including measures to recognize and support the right of aboriginal governments to use and promote aboriginal languages; to encourage and support provincial and territorial governments and municipal, local and educational authorities to support aboriginal languages; to increase opportunities for aboriginal persons to learn and become more proficient in using their languages; to increase the number of circumstances in which aboriginal languages are used and supported; and to foster a positive attitude among all Canadians toward aboriginal languages.
An Act for the advancement of the aboriginal languages of Canada and to recognize and respect aboriginal language rights
Whereas the historical existence and continued presence of aboriginal peoples in Canada is one of its fundamental characteristics and the varied and diverse voices of the aboriginal peoples of Canada have echoed across this land since time immemorial;
Whereas language is an integral part of culture and an essential tool of identification, cohesion, communication and creative expression;
Whereas, following their discussions, exchanges, studies and reports, several aboriginal groups have recommended that formal legislative recognition be given to aboriginal languages;
Whereas it is desirable to support aboriginal peoples and persons in Canada in preserving and revitalizing their languages as living languages and to ensure that aboriginal language speakers have equal opportunities to obtain education and employment and to participate in their governance and otherwise meaningfully engage in society at every level;
And whereas the Parliament of Canada is committed to assisting the aboriginal peoples of Canada to preserve and revitalize their languages by protecting and promoting them and by recognizing and respecting aboriginal language rights, a commitment consistent with the policies of the Government of Canada regarding aboriginal self-government and supportive of the individual rights and freedoms of aboriginal persons and the collective rights and freedoms of aboriginal peoples in Canada;
Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:
1. This Act may be cited as the Aboriginal Languages of Canada Act.
2. The following definitions apply in this Act.
« langues autochtones »
“aboriginal languages” means the historical and traditional languages spoken by the aboriginal peoples of Canada.
“aboriginal peoples of Canada”
« peuples autochtones du Canada »
“aboriginal peoples of Canada” means the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.
« ministre »
“Minister” means the member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada designated by the Governor in Council as the Minister for the purposes of this Act.
English- and French-language education
3. For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to limit or preclude the funding of English or French language education or training programs for aboriginal persons.
ABORIGINAL AND TREATY RIGHTS
4. For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any existing aboriginal or treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
ADVANCEMENT OF ABORIGINAL LANGUAGES OF CANADA
Recognition of rights
5. It is hereby recognized that the aboriginal peoples of Canada have the right to use, preserve, revitalize and promote their aboriginal languages and the freedom to share their cultural heritage through the use of those languages.
6. The Government of Canada is committed to
(a) recognizing and respecting the right of aboriginal peoples and persons to use, preserve, revitalize and promote the languages of the aboriginal peoples of Canada, and their freedom to share their cultural heritage through the use of their aboriginal languages;
(b) preserving, revitalizing and promoting aboriginal languages in Canada by pro-tecting them and using them where appropriate;
(c) encouraging and promoting respect and appreciation for aboriginal languages; and
(d) making use, where appropriate, of the language skills and cultural understanding of aboriginal persons.
Specific mandate of Minister
7. The Minister shall take the measures that the Minister considers appropriate to implement the commitments set out in section 6 and otherwise give effect to and carry out the objectives of this Act and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, the Minister may take measures to
(a) recognize and support the right of aboriginal governments to take action on using and giving official status to aboriginal languages for the purposes of conducting local governance activities;
(b) recognize and support the right of aboriginal governments to use aboriginal languages as the medium of instruction in all schools that are operated on reserve, or under tuition agreements for aboriginal students, and funded by the Government of Canada;
(c) encourage and support provincial and territorial governments to encourage and support the certification of aboriginal language teachers and instructors, linguists, interpreters and translators, and the use of aboriginal languages as a medium of instruction;
(d) encourage and support provincial, territorial, municipal and local authorities in working with aboriginal partners to implement programs for the purposes of carrying out and giving effect to this Act;
(e) encourage and support institutions of elementary, secondary and higher education to include the study or use of aboriginal languages in their curriculum and to grant full academic credit for proficiency in an aboriginal language equal to that granted for proficiency in either of the official languages of Canada;
(f) encourage and support programs that increase the opportunities for aboriginal persons to learn their languages;
(g) encourage and support an increase in the proficiency levels of aboriginal persons speaking, listening to, reading and writing in aboriginal languages through the development of culturally appropriate curricula and materials;
(h) increase the number of circumstances, situations and activities in which aboriginal languages are used and supported, including their use in broadcasting, telecommunications and other media; and
(i) foster and support among aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples a positive attitude towards aboriginal languages as a source of pride in Canadian society.
8. The Minister, or any other minister of the Crown, may enter into an agreement or arrangement with any province, territory or government of an aboriginal people in Canada the purpose of which is to implement the commitments set out in section 6 or otherwise give effect to or carry out the objectives of this Act.
9. The Minster shall take such measures as the Minister considers appropriate to ensure consultation with the leaders and governing bodies of aboriginal peoples in Canada in the design, development and implementation of policies and programs under this Act.
10. The Governor in Council may make regulations to give effect to and carry out the objectives of this Act.
11. (1) The Minister shall, as soon as possible after the end of each fiscal year, prepare and cause to be laid before each House of Parliament a report on the operation of this Act for that year.
(2) The Minister shall include in the annual report
(a) a description of the measures taken to give effect to and carry out the objectives of this Act;
(b) an evaluation of the impact those measures have had and of the progress made in achieving the objectives of this Act;
(c) a description of the consultations undertaken by the Minister respecting the design, development and implementation of policies and programs under this Act;
(d) an evaluation regarding compliance with the provisions of this Act;
(e) recommendations the Minister may have for better achieving the objectives of this Act; and
(f) a statement of plans for giving effect to this Act, according to its spirit and intent, in the next year.
Coming into force
12. This Act comes into force on a day, not later than two years after the day on which it receives royal assent, to be fixed by the Governor in Council.