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Judy Klassen asks about the provincial government's approach to indigenous languages

Thursday, June 21, Judy Klassen asked about the use of indigenous languages in education in Manitoba.  Her questions and the Minister's responses are below: 

Education Curriculum - Indigenous Language Programs

Ms. Judy Klassen (Kewatinook): Along with our inherent right to hunt, trap and fish, we also have the inherent right to our languages.
      The Aboriginal Languages Recognition Act recognizes seven languages spoken here in Manitoba which are the Cree, Dene, Ojibwe, Dakota and Oji‑Cree, and those spoken by our Metis and Inuit relations.
      Thanks to the great work of the Seven Oaks School Division and the Winnipeg School Division we now have Ojibwe and Cree bilingual programs offered there.
      When will this minister look at ensuring that more schools offer indigenous bilingual programs?
Hon. Ian Wishart (Minister of Education and Training): I thank the member for the question.
      A number of school divisions are in process of developing programs for indigenous languages. I think Park West has already initiated one in western Manitoba. So it is occurring across the province based on the need of the immediate community.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for Kewatinook, on a supplementary question.
Ms. Klassen: Manitoba could actually become a leader in this respect. To have one's full identity one must know their language. Language needs to be taught at an early age.
      Indigenous languages are not yet a vital component of Manitoba's curriculum. Does this province truly want better outcomes for its indigenous populations? Why has it not consulted with our language educators?
      When a school does want to make language a part of their agenda there are so many obstacles and the resources aren't there, and yet the federal government has budgeted funds for our languages.
      Can the minister tell us of his progress in securing resources to have more indigenous bilingual curriculum across Manitoba's schools?
Mr. Wishart: I thank the member for the question.
      Our Aboriginal inclusion directorate has been working on a regular basis with number of different First Nations communities and organizations and also with the school divisions. In fact, they just finished a series of round tables with this very specific issue as part of that.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for Kewatinook, on a final supplementary.
Ms. Klassen: Currently, only two schools in Winnipeg offer an indigenous bilingual program, one located in Minto and the other in Kildonan. When a student wants to go to a school that offers indigenous language but lives outside the school division that offers it, they're not provided the busing service like they do with the French immersion students.
      When this minister is amalgamating the school divisions, will he consider changing this policy?
Mr. Wishart: I thank the member for the question.
      Certainly when we're doing our consultation on the future of the K-to-12 education system here in Manitoba the member is very much welcome to put forward this idea. We hope to have a very constructive decision. It's probably the first time in a generation that we will talk about what the future of the K-to-12 system will look like here in Manitoba.


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