AFN National Chief Bellegarde Celebrates Declaration by United Nations of an International Decade of Indigenous Languages

NEW YORK CITY, Dec. 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ – A day after addressing the United Nations General Assembly to call for action to save and strengthen Indigenous languages, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde celebrates today’s move by the United Nations to formally declare an International Decade of Indigenous Languages which will begin in 2022.

“The International Decade of Indigenous Languages demonstrates a strong international commitment to restore, support and strengthen Indigenous languages,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “Our languages are our identity, our wisdom, our worldview. They must not be lost. The International Year of Indigenous Languages was a good start, but one year is simply not enough when we’re talking about diverse cultural heritages facing such grave threats. Let’s continue to work together to get this important work done.”

National Chief Bellegarde is at UN Headquarters in New York City to participate in the “High-level event for the closing of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages.” The National Chief addressed the full UN General Assembly yesterday, the first Indigenous leader from Canada to address the General Assembly twice in one year (National Chief Bellegarde also spoke to the General Assembly in February 2019). National Chief Bellegarde told the General Assembly in his address yesterday that, in Canada, no Indigenous language is safe and only one in five Indigenous people is fluent enough in their language to hold a conversation.

The National Chief thanked and acknowledged the Grand Chief of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations, Wilton Littlechild, who is attending the UN General Assembly this week, for his dedication over many years and for his role in making the International Year of Indigenous Languages and the International Decade of Indigenous Languages a reality. In 2016, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

The text of the National Chief’s speech delivered to the UN General Assembly on December 17, 2019 is available on the AFN website:

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates. 


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SOURCE Assembly of First Nations