Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government would be proposing a Canadian Indigenous Languages Act.
Few details are yet available about what this act might look like, but the Northwest Territories can perhaps shed some light on such language legislation because we have had an Official Languages Act here since 1984 that grants official status, not only to English and French, but also to nine Indigenous languages.
The act creates certain rights for citizens as well as obligations for the N.W.T. legislature and its government offices, schools, courts, health centres, election officials, boards and agencies. A person can choose the language in which they want to communicate with and participate in these institutions, subject to certain regulations.
A head office, for example, must provide services in all official languages, while community offices must do so in the local languages. Municipalities, however, are not obligated by the act to do so, nor are Indigenous organizations or the federal government.
Read more: CBC News