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The usage of Indigenous languages as a tool for meaningful engagement with northern Indigenous communities

Faculty Advisor




Indigenous languages, community engagement

Abstract (summary)

The Canadian Northern Corridor (CNC) program integrates formal academic research and a strategy of engagement with potentially impacted communities (Fellows et al. 2020). Finding common ground among Indigenous peoples, governments and industry on engagement and consultation practices is imperative to the future of resource development and the Canadian economy, and ultimately to the reconciliation of the relationships between Indigenous Peoples and Canada (Boyd and Lorefice 2018). In this paper, we focus on language, stressing that languages are more than just tools. Rather, all communicative systems also hold both individual and cultural identities, histories and memory, and encode knowledge in specific ways. This article investigates how Indigenous languages can contribute to meaningful engagement particularly within the context of the CNC concept; our recommendations also work toward strengthening existing Indigenous policy initiatives in Canada, uplifting Indigenous worldviews, and potentially supporting the reconciliation process. We draw upon primarily Indigenous scholars in explaining the reasons why using Indigenous languages matters for fostering meaningful engagement during research, consultation, and community engagement activities and address methods by which they can be implemented. After examining some past/ongoing attempts at this incorporation, we identify in our policy recommendations five different ways that the entire process of community engagement can align with the usage of Indigenous languages.

Publication Information

Ferguson, J., & Sidorova, E. (2023) The Usage of Indigenous Languages as a Tool for Meaningful Engagement with Northern Indigenous Communities. The School of Public Policy Publications, 16(1), April 2023.


Item Type




Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)