Mi'kmaw to be formally recognized as Nova Scotia's first language

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A group of 13 women graduated from the Mi'kmaw early childhood education program in 2020. (Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey - image credit)
A group of 13 women graduated from the Mi'kmaw early childhood education program in 2020. (Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey - image credit)

Nova Scotia will introduce legislation next year to officially recognize Mi'kmaw as the province's first language.

The announcement was made Friday by Minister of L'nu Affairs Karla MacFarlane.

A news release said the number of people who speak Mi'kmaw is declining rapidly and government will start working with Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey, a collective voice for Mi'kmaw education, to revitalize the language.

The province will support Mi'kmaw speakers who are working in schools and communities to preserve the language, the release said.

According to the release, the province will reinforce the work done by the Treaty Education Nova Scotia initiative and collaborate on legislation that will ensure that the Mi'kmaw language becomes "a normal part of life in Nova Scotia."

Executive director 'thrilled' by announcement

Blaire Gould, the executive director of Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey, said she "couldn't be more thrilled" at the announcement, adding that she hopes Nova Scotia's initiatives will be a model for other Canadian jurisdictions.

"I'm very practical when it comes to understanding what legislation can do," she said. "The ultimate priority is to enable folks to recognize, for one, Mi'kmaw as the original language of this land, and two, enable them to work within their sectors to make it a priority."

Gould said restoring fluency and proficiency in young people is a key priority.

Reacting to the announcement, the Assembly of Mi'kmaw Chiefs issued a media release on Friday congratulating Chief Leroy Denny, the assembly's education lead and chair of Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey.

"We want to acknowledge Chief Denny's passion for ensuring our language is passed down to future generations," Chief Sidney Peters said in the release.

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