Circumstances and Causes Around the Death of Canadian Aboriginal Languages

It has been noted that language is a very big factor in the formation and sustaining of identity and that there is, therefore, a link between the survival of aboriginal languages and the general wellbeing of individuals and of the aboriginal community as a whole. This finding has been substantiated by a recent empirical studies in Canada, where there are some communities which have preserved indigenous languages alongside other communities where the indigenous language has is no longer spoken: “The common theme that cuts across all of the research efforts is that any threat to the persistence of personal or cultural identity poses a counterpart threat to individual and community wellbeing.” (Hallet et al., 2007, p. 393). Specific analysis of suicide rates in young people found that there is a correlation between the death of the original language in the local community, and suicide among young people.
The reason why this should be the case appears to be the fact that there is a strong connection between language, culture, and identity. Young people who grow up without being able to speak the language of their ancestors, or even that of their grandparents, experience alienation from their own culture, and this causes a rise in public health problems. Using the analogy of a “coalminer’s canary” Hallet et al. show how youth suicide can be a marker of cultural distress, and how this is related to language death. In communities where the indigenous language is not being passed on to the young, suicide rates are higher.
The case of Canada is an interesting one because there is still today a large variety of experience occurring in&nbsp.terms of the way indigenous languages have prospered or died off within a country that operates predominantly in English and French at the national level