There's A Call To Make An 'OQLF For Indigenous Languages' In Quebec

The Québec solidaire (QS) political party is proposing what it calls an "OQLF of Indigenous languages," or a House of Indigenous Languages (Maison des langues autochtones).

Such an office would work to "revitalize, protect, enhance and promote the 11 Indigenous languages" within what is now Quebec, "support organizations that offer Indigenous language courses or immersion programs" and "increase the visibility of Indigenous languages in the public space," according to QS.

The House of Indigenous Languages is one part of the party's proposed Indigenous Language Law (Loi sur les langues autochtones), which it says would also "establish the linguistic rights of First Nations and Inuit," enabling, for example, "access to translators in hospitals or signage in Indigenous languages in courthouses."

The proposal comes as the National Assembly considers the Legault government's Bill 96 language law reform.

"The status quo means that languages are disappearing and speakers are left to fend for themselves in our public services," QS spokesperson Manon Massé said in a statement. "After the collective awakening of the last few years, this is no longer acceptable."

Benjamin Gingras, a member of Québec solidaire's Commission nationale autochtone from the Anishnabe community of Timiskaming First Nation, added that "for many Aboriginal people, learning our ancestral language, sometimes threatened with extinction, is a way to reclaim our culture, our history, but also our traditional way of seeing the world."

"It's more than words, terms or verbs, it's a question of the cultural vitality of the First Nations in Quebec."

QS wants the Quebec government to work with Indigenous nations on the proposed law.

Party representatives presented their proposal Friday morning at the Hannenorak bookstore in the Wendake community of the Huron-Wendat Nation.

It bears mentioning that, as La Presse reports, Huron-Wendat Grand Chief Rémy Vincent later in the day made clear that QS did not notify the Nation before proceeding with its announcement.

In a Facebook post, Vincent said the move demonstrated "a flagrant lack of respect."

"Only the communities or nations have the authority to pronounce themselves on our languages and even more globally on all questions related to our cultures," Vincent wrote.

"The political parties must consult the Nations when it comes to proposing such important initiatives related to the preservation of our Indigenous languages."