Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures


Languages, Literatures and Cultures


Languages, Literatures and Cultures

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LLCU Colloquium Series on Race and Racism

Supported by the Faculty of Arts and Science
Taking place via Zoom

A Genealogy of Language  Hierarchies in Canada


Dr. Eve Haque 
York University

2019 was the declared by the UN to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages and it was also the year the Canada passed the Indigenous Languages Act, which although extending recognition for the almost 70 Indigenous languages in Canada, bestowed no official status on these languages. However, almost two third of these Indigenous languages are considered endangered, and almost all the rest are classified as vulnerable to loss. Additionally, there are approximately 200 ‘immigrant’ languages in Canada which continue to disappear from communities within a few generations, despite immigration target levels being raised to historically high levels this century.  In a country with this vast array of non-official languages, this is a devastating loss of linguistic and cultural resources; resources which are central to community and cultural continuity as well as essential - as identified in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2015) - for community survival and decolonization. 

In this talk, I want to discuss how white settler logics of assimilation continue to underlie state relations with Indigenous and racialized immigrant communities and the fate of their languages in Canada. White settler colonial projects of assimilation from the late 19th and early 20th century that explicitly targeted Indigenous communities and immigrant groups have been largely discounted in the present. In its place is a current framework of non/recognition of Indigenous and racialized groups within the white settler Canadian context; whether it is couched in the language of multiculturalism, inclusion or preservation. As I will argue, contemporary hierarchies of language – both in rights, recognition and resourcing - emerged as the preferred mode for organizing a dual white settler ‘multicultural’ national belonging explicitly out of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (1963-1971) and still echoes today even in ostensibly progressive language policies like the Indigenous Languages Act (2019).

Thursday, 8 April at 2:30 PM EST

Zoom Registration Link:

All welcome