Indigenous Language Loss, Barriers to Acquisition, and Relationality: Perspectives and Knowledge of Indigenous Students, Staff and Faculty at the university of guelph


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University of Guelph


According to UNESCO every Indigenous language in canada falls under vulnerable to critically endangered categorizations with the majority falling into categories of endangered, severely, or critically endangered (Norris and UNESCO 2010). While the loss of language on its own is alarming, the impact of the loss of Indigenous languages has been linked to the loss of generational, ancestral knowledge, culture, environmental wisdom, and health. There are other dimensions that still need to be explored in relation to language loss. This study explores language loss, barriers to acquisition and how the loss of Indigenous languages may impact relations. This study was made possible through the sharing of perspectives and knowledge of Indigenous students, staff, and faculty at the university of guelph. This study was conducted through semi- structured interviews with seven participants and photo-voice with one participant. The findings suggest: altered relationships with the loss of language; barriers to Indigenous language acquisition, which can result in negative views of self and altered views of others; and, that this loss is rooted in historic violence, injustice and colonial policy. Throughout this research there were discussions of steps forward to revitalization and reclamation of Indigenous languages. Understanding that Indigenous languages are endangered makes this a critical time to explore what may be resulting from this loss.



Indigenous, Language