Ontario: Anishinabek create official language policy

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Wed Jun 21 12:56:53 UTC 2006


Anishinabek create official language policy

NIPISSING FIRST NATION--(CCNMatthews - June 20, 2006) - Chiefs of the 42
member communities of the Anishinabek Nation have unanimously created an
official language policy. During their June 12-14 annual Grand Council
Assembly, the Chiefs endorsed a resolution declaring that the official
language of the Anishinabek Nation is Anishinaabe-mowin, or the Ojibwe
language. "This is a historic decision for our First Nations, and a
significant step in coming out from under colonial rule and restoring our
own Nationhood,"  said John Beaucage, who was acclaimed by the Chiefs to
serve another term as their Grand Council Chief. The Grand Council
Assembly serves as a traditional annual gathering for member communities
of the Anishinabek Nation, as well as the annual general meeting of the
Union of Ontario Indians Inc.

"Our language is sacred, and protecting and restoring it is a priority for
our Chiefs," said Beaucage. "It is the vision of this official language
policy that our people will once again think in Anishinaabe-mowin by
ensuring that Ojibwe is once again the language of our ceremonies, our
gatherings, and our working life." The official language policy is in step
with the Anishinabek Nation's unanimous support for the establishment of
the Anishinaabe-Mushkegowuk-Onkwehonwe Language Commission that will
support the language development needs of all First Nations in Ontario.
Outgoing Deputy Grand Chief Nelson Toulouse, who did not seek re-election,
was officially appointed as Commissioner to this new body that was modeled
after the Maori language commission in New Zealand.

The resolution states that "the Anishinabek Chiefs-in-Assembly hereby
declare that Anishinaabe-mowin, shall herein and forever, be the official
language of the Anishinabek Nation and "hereby acknowledge that English is
the language of the Crown and is a working language of our people". The
official language policy also adopts immersion programs as the preferred
method of instruction in Anishinabek Nation schools. "Ojibwe as a second
language or conventional Ojibwe language instruction shall be phased out
in favour of immersion and fluency programs for school-aged children,"
said Grand Council Chief Beaucage.

The resolution also calls for the establishment of workplace immersion
programs and learning opportunities for First Nation employees. The
resolution commits the Chiefs-in-Assembly to encourage and support
"opportunities for learning, and that each member of the Anishinabek
Nation civil service shall be granted two weeks of language development
leave and/or workplace language immersion programming." Anishinabek Nation
Headquarters on Nipissing First Nation will implement the workplace
language programming this summer. Satellite offices located in Thunder
Bay, Curve Lake and Muncey-Deleware will follow suit soon after.

The 42 member First Nations will mandate and regulate the official
language policy through their respect Band Councils, Agencies, Boards and
Commissions by the year 2010. The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the
Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a
political advocate for 42 member First Nations across Ontario. The UOI is
the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back
to the [something deleted, hs]

/For further information: Maurice Switzer Director of
Communications Union of Ontario Indians 705-497-9127 (2272)/

Bob Goulais, Executive Assistant to the Grand Council Chief
Primary Phone: 705-498-5250
Secondary Phone: 705-497-9127 ext. 2249
E-mail: goubob at anishinabek.ca


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