I agree with that.
If you go to France, you can see that the Langue d'oc still exists. It is a kind of dialect, but it is a different language that includes a lot of French words. But ensuring the very survival of the language is extremely difficult.
You're right, it is very difficult, but I think the great thing about a centralized state that we have, a federation, is that there are the resources of the state to allow the linguists to sit down together to come up with the common terms.
The great thing about Parliament is that we deal with everything. We have debates about everything. We talk about transportation, about security. We talk about health. Do those terms always exist? Are they always the same? If they're not, it's going to force people, the experts, to sit down somewhere and decide on the term that we want to use. Then it's going to take the education system, with Indigenous Services, to make sure these words get out to the communities and the schools and that the teachers in the schools use them.
Then if also we know that there is employment for interpreters, the universities will have the opportunity to end up training people to a professional standard to offer those services. I used to have a program at the University of Manitoba. I was a program director there in the aboriginal focus programs, as a university professor, and one of our certificates, combined with Red River College, was aboriginal languages, but we couldn't run the program because we didn't really have any jobs for people to go to, because there was no need. We don't need Cree.
However, I think if there was an opportunity, people might take up that language and be a language defender, a language warrior, and go out there and promote it and use it every day, and use it at home and in their workplace. We all know what Quebec did in the 1960s. It was quite incredible. They went from having....
No French was spoken on the island of Montreal. A lot of people did not like Bill 101, but it still forced the state and the businesses to recognize that speaking French was important.
I lived in Quebec City for 13 years and I understand the mentality. Language structures our thoughts. It is incredible. When I speak French, I think completely differently than when I speak English or Cree. It is really fascinating. If we lose the indigenous languages, we will never get them back.
Words can describe important things. At one point in the year, a flower can be different, although technically it is the same flower. But the word used to describe it may vary with the time of year. The elements that make it up can be useful to a physician at some points of the year but not others. We would lose all that knowledge of the elders because young people do not understand all those words.
Something has to be done, but no one is doing anything. That's why this is historic.
It's historic because you have the opportunity of doing something that no one else has done before. We always talk about the importance of language, but no one actually takes any action in this country. There are very few resources. Everyone says, “Well, you know, maybe we'll write a little children's book here, a little children's book there, with a couple of Cree words and a couple of French words and a couple of English words, so maybe people may understand what's going on”, but it's not enough. We need the state. We need the instruments of the state to help, because it is an important and symbolic way of supporting and making sure that some of these languages survive. Not all of them will, I kid you not, but at least a few will, and that's your importance here.