When the House of Commons moves to West Block this Fall, it will have a new interpretation booth dedicated to Indigenous language translation. Jason Mercredi argues that rebuilding Indigenous languages – and recognizing their national importance – is a necessary condition for a nation-to-nation relationship. This article was originally published in July 2017.
On June 8, 2017, the honourable Robert Falcon-Ouellette spoke to the House of Commons in his official language, Nehiyaw. No issue was raised regarding the use of the Cree language, but his fellow parliamentarians could not understand him. Although the honourable member requested interpretation services 48 hours in advance, none was provided. Simply put, the House of Commons claims to have not had the capacity to interpret and, in an official ruling from the Speaker, denied Falcon-Oullette the right to have his comments translated. Canada, after all, only officially speaks two languages on Turtle Island.