Committee: United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Topic: Safeguarding Endangered Languages and Dialects
Delegate Name: Pappa Vasiliki
In the last several decades safeguarding language and dialects has
become a major concern to which UNESCO has turned its attention. Nowadays, this
issue has taken huge dimensions, as innumerable languages are on the verge of
extinction. It is estimated that in a century from now the number of the
remaining languages will drop dramatically from 6.000 to a few hundreds. UNESCO’s
role is to minimize this threat, protecting, promoting and maintaining all
languages and dialects in order to preserve multilingualism.
The endangered indigenous languages of
Canada are those of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis).
Their languages mirror a variety of unique cultures, histories and identities.
For all these three groups language is the foundation of their culture.
Aboriginal peoples’ languages are on the brink of extinction. It is estimated
that only one third of the Aboriginal languages have the prospect of survival.
It is specified that at least five languages have already been extinct, while
others barely survive into the present. Throughout
the years various Declarations and treaties have been signed in order to safeguard
endangered languages. The Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights is one of
the most significant one. Canada is the first Western country to declare and put
into action an executive policy of multiculturalism in 1971. A decade later in
1998, The Canadian Government created the Aboriginal Languages Initiative (ALI)
to fund a variety of community-based language projects such as language
learning resources, documentation, communications and media, recording
interviews with elders and developing dictionaries for over twenty-five
endangered languages. Moreover, Canada adopted the Declaration of Vienna of the
World Conference on Human Rights. In the year 2010, Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau announced that Canada will implement the UN Declaration on
the Rights of Indigenous peoples stating that “No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with
Indigenous Peoples.”. In 2017, the government provided $90
million in funding to “protect, preserve and revitalize” those
languages for three years. Meanwhile, numerous Aboriginal language
organizations are developing teaching resources such as the Canadian Indigenous
Languages and Literacy Development Institute (CILLDI). In Canada numerous organizations
provide online language resources to First Nations, while the media expands the
awareness across Canada. Specifically, The Aboriginal Peoples Television
Network (APTN) broadcasts nationally with programming by Aboriginal peoples.
Taking all these into consideration, Canada firmly believes that despite
what has already been done new measures need to be taken to evade the attrition
of a language. It is a widespread belief that the
endangerment of a language may finally lead to its extinction. Taking into
consideration that,this disappearance seems to have tremendous effects on
national, as well as on international level. Canada believes that the
extinction of a language unavoidably leads to the disappearance of diverse
forms of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Canada noting with deep concern that the
rapid technological evolution in the modern society conduces to the extinction
of several languages and dialects, emphasizes that in order to minimize this
threat international community ought to guarantee the linguistic diversity in
cyberspace. This can be achieved by creating television networks, where
languages in danger can be broadcasted and thus promoted. Moreover, raising
awareness via social media, providing internet access to the speakers of
endangered languages and creating linguistic documentation in digital form will
also assist on maintaining these languages the delegation of Canada strongly supports that we
ought to create broadcast media, television channels and numerous internet
websites where these languages can be promoted so that their speakers are able
to have access to the world of technology without the need to fend off their
language and shift to a more prestige one.
Canada advocates that in order to guard, maintain and promote all the
endangered language, it is required to form a basic pedagogical and linguistic
training. It is needed to provide trained language teachers who will
acknowledge the basics in linguistics and teaching methods. Last but not least,
local communities shall establish centers where the speakers of an endangered
language will be taught how to document and archive their own language