For a language to survive, it needs to pass from generation to generation. Generally this happens in the home and community, where family members learn the language from birth and use it as part of their everyday lives.

2.2 Aboriginal languages in Canada

Aboriginal peoples identify strongly with their cultural heritage and their languages. Their languages express their relationship with their environment, their social traditions and their spirituality, and establish continuity with their past.

What type of people we are, where we came from, what land
we claim, and all our legends are based on the language we speak.

Mary Seimens, Dogrib Language Specialist2

Their languages also reflect a holistic approach to life, where everything is connected—where everything interacts with everything else.

Language is an essential part of the holistic approach to life that
characterizes Aboriginal cultures…

Ruth Norton and Mark Fettes, Taking Back the Talk3


1 Fishman, Joshua. 'What do you lose when you lose your language?' In G. Cantoni, ed. Stabilizing Indigenous Languages. Flagstaff, Centre for Excellence in Education, Northern Arizona University, 1996.
2 Crosscurrent Associates, Languages of the Land: A resource manual for Aboriginal language activists. Yellowknife: NWT Literacy Council, 1999.
3 Norton, Ruth and Mark Fettes. Taking Back the Talk: A Specialized Review on Aboriginal Languages and Literacy. Paper prepared as part of the research program of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. November 1994.