Why TVO.org is translating Indigenous stories into Indigenous languages

EDITOR’S NOTE: Canada tried for more than a century to erase Indigenous languages. In the spirit of reconciliation, we must all help to protect them
By Graeme Bayliss - Published on Oct 18, 2019

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At least 139 residential schools operated in Canada between 1831 and 1996. Over the course of 165 years, Indigenous children at these schools were physically and sexually abused, forced to give up their cultural practices, and stripped of their traditional languages.

There are more than 70 such languages spoken in this country, according to Statistics Canada. Many of them are endangered.

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued 94 calls to action. One of them states that “Aboriginal languages are a fundamental and valued element of Canadian culture and society, and there is an urgency to preserve them.”

TVO shares this view. That is why we are embarking on a new initiative. Until now, TVO.org has published stories from its Indigenous Hub reporters in English only. Going forward, we intend to publish as many such stories as possible both in English and in an Indigenous language relevant to the community we are covering.

For the past several weeks, we have been working to develop a network of Indigenous translators. We hope to expand this network in the coming months. At publication time, we are capable of translating stories into Cree, Mohawk, and Ojibwe.

There will be stories that we are unable to translate: we may not have a translator available in a specific language or at a specific time. But we will do our best. Canada brought about the endangerment of these languages. Canadians, working together with Indigenous communities, must do what they can to protect them.

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