In the News: Ryan Decaire on Revitalizing Indigenous languages
Ryan DeCaire, an Assistant Professor who recently joined our team here at the Centre for Indigenous Studies was interviewed today on CTV’s Your Morning. The focus of the interview was the revitalization of Indigenous languages.
DeCaire and Jacey Firth-Hagen, creator of “Speak Gwich’in to Me” campaign, spoke about the threats facing Indigenous languages: 63 out of 87 Indigenous languages in Canada are endangered to some extent and funding for language learning programs is scarce.
“There have been colonial policies in Canada designed specifically to get rid of Indigenous languages,” said DeCaire, who explained that one of the goals of the residential school system was to remove children from their communities so that they would lose their language.
Campaigns like “Speak Gwich’in to Me” are designed attract new speakers and create more opportunities for learning and speaking, and arise out of an understanding that language is integral to culture.
For DeCaire, the best tactic for reviving Indigenous languages is to create “language nests” where language learners are given opportunities to listen and speak with fluent speakers. “The most effective way of creating proficiency and increasing revitalization of the language is immersion,” DeCaire explained.
An inspiring and informative discussion, be sure to watch the entire interview.