Jesuits contribute to the revitalization of indigenous languages and identities

April 18, 2019 — How can old Jesuit manuscripts written in indigenous languages have become such a hot topic? Because they fit perfectly into one of the four Jesuit Universal Apostolic Preferences and into UNESCO’s theme for 2019, namely the International Year of Indigenous Languages.  

UNESCO chose this theme “to draw attention to the critical loss of indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and promote indigenous languages, including as an educational medium, and to take further urgent steps to that end at the national and international levels.”  However, the number of speakers of several of these languages is on the decline in Canada and elsewhere in the world. This phenomenon has grown to such an extent that each year, multiple indigenous languages become dormant. This is a shocking observation since they carry the identity, knowledge and culture of the nation that uses it.  

Yet, it is possible to revitalize indigenous languages, even those that have not had native speakers in many decades. For example, the revitalization of the Huron-Wendat language was – and still is – at the heart of several major projects, such as Yawenda and Natives4Linguistics. These projects are partly based on Jesuit linguistic documents. In fact, the former missionaries of New France learnt Huron-Wendat thanks to its native speakers and recorded this knowledge in grammar books, dictionaries and other texts. Moreover, many of these texts are kept in the Archives of the Jesuits of Canada, even if they are not in the UNESCO Register.  

The purpose of the archives is to preserve these linguistic documents; indeed, these conservation efforts fit into the reconciliation process with indigenous peoples. Are you interested in knowing more about this? Some manuscripts are easily accessible online via a digital exhibit.  You can also visit the NFB site to hear speakers of indigenous languages.  

In order to participate in the International Year of Indigenous Languages, over the coming weeks we will publish a series of articles to help you discover manuscripts and printed materials written by Jesuits on this topic.  

Recent News

Father Jean-Marie Rocheleau died on May 20, 2019, in the infirmary of Richelieu. He was in his 101st year and in religious life for 84 years. He is known to host the "Radio Sacré-Cœur" programs. He dedicated himself to giving the Spiritual Exercises to religious sisters, especially in Quebec.

May 16, 2019 — This past Saturday, May 11, the Jesuit Province of Canada celebrated the priestly ordination of Adam Douglas Hincks, SJ (Canada) and Edward Dawson Penton, SJ (Canada) and 5 diaconal ordinations at Saint Paul's Basilica in Toronto.

May 16, 2019 — Here is a brief summary of news and events that have happened or will happen in the next few days.

May 16, 2019 — The Jesuit Curia in Rome has just published a set of resources entitled: “Praying with the Preferences”, which provides seven documents to enable the reader not only to pray but to enter more deeply into the journey of renewal and conversion offered by the UAP.

Father Gilles Morissette died in the evening of May 12, 2019, at the infirmary of Richelieu. He was in his 80th year and in religious life for 56 years. He devoted much of his time to spiritually accompanying people "who have been placed on his way".

May 16, 2019 — The magazines Relations and Au cœur du monde have just launched their new editions. These have us travlling to various places leading us to view the world in a critical and contemplative manner.

May 16, 2019 — From May 1 to 3, dozens of Directors of Apostolates gathered at the Villa St. Martin retreat centre in Montreal. They began to reflect about that very same question: how to start appropriating the UAP in our local Canadian contexts.

view all news

Search news


Relations Mai 2019

Canadian Jesuits

Jesuit (Winter 2019)

Loyola House / Ignatius Jesuit Centre
Built in 1964, Loyola House in Guelph, ON has welcomed over 60,000 people of all faiths to deepen ...