February 21st, 2023
Today, February 21, is International Mother Language Day. This day was created by UNESCO in 1999 to celebrate languages and promote cultural diversity.
On this day in 1952, three students from Dhaka University were killed during a demonstration. The students were calling for the recognition of their language Bangla (also known as Bengali). International Mother Language Day honours the loss of these students and their advocacy.
Indigenous languages were the first home languages in Canada. Many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit home languages have become endangered as a result of colonialism. Across what is now known as Canada, there are more than 70 Indigenous languages. Ontario is home to six Indigenous language families – Anishinaabe, Onkwehonwe (Haudenosaunee), Mushkegowuk, Lunaape, Inuktitut, and Michif. While we acknowledge these larger language families, it is equally important to recognize the unique language experiences specific to each community and to understand their complex differences.
Welcoming All Languages at the WRDSB
At the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), we want every student to feel like they belong. We strive to create a language-friendly environment in every school. To help, we have created this Language Friendly Schools Poster, with ideas for helping to welcome all languages in our schools. Copies of this poster will be shared with our schools.
Resources for Students and Caregivers
- Language Friendly Schools Poster
- Do-It-Yourself Translation Tools
- Hold Onto Your Home Languages (Brochures in Many Languages)
- International and Indigenous Languages Program, WRDSB
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