Language Education and Canada’s Indigenous Peoples

  • Mela SarkarEmail author
  • Constance Lavoie
Part of the Educational Linguistics book series (EDUL, volume 18)


This chapter presents an overview of the language situation of Canada’s Indigenous peoples and their educational struggles. The authors situate policies, programs and pedagogical strategies in the complex historical and socio-political Canadian context. After an outline of the historical and socio-political context for the language education of Indigenous peoples in Canada, contemporary Indigenous policies, programs and pedagogical strategies around language education are presented, in the aftermath of the Indigenous struggle for self-determination and increasing mainstream awareness of Indigenous language and education issues. A surge in Indigenous population growth resulting in an increasingly youthful population profile, a pull towards urbanization, and the rise of new technologies are all factors that are affecting the landscape of language and education in Indigenous (or Aboriginal) Canada. Drawing on data from a language maintenance project in a Quebec Innu community and a language revitalization project in a Mi’gmaq community in the Maritimes, the gamut of Indigenous responses to the challenge of not one but two colonizing languages is demonstrated. These initiatives are placed in the wider Canadian context.


Mi’gmaq Innu Indigenous language First Nations Indian education Bilingualism Revitalization Canadian Aboriginal education Endangered languages 



Our thanks go, first, to the teachers in the communities where we have participated in language maintenance and revitalization projects, and also to the students, parents, administrators, community members and “all the relations” at Unamen Shipu and Listuguj. Receiving these invitations was an honour; some day we may deserve it. We thank Jasone Cenoz, Durk Gorter and Vicky Zenotz for their professionalism and patience throughout. Thanks also to Kristina Kasparian, Kris Onishi and an anonymous reviewer for helping us make the text clearer. The studies in Unamen Shipu and Listuguj would not have been possible without the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Fonds de recherche du Québec—Société et culture.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Integrated Studies in EducationMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Département des sciences de l’éducationUniversité du Québec à ChicoutimiChicoutimiCanada

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