Kwakwaka performers from Vancouver Island during the high-level event held to launch the International Year of Indigenous Languages. UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Island Kwakwaka’wakw dancers perform on international stage

Dancers invited to United Nations to celebrate International Year of Indigenous Languages

A group of Kwakwaka’wakw dancers from the north Island performed on an international stage Friday at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

The contingent, which included William Wasden Jr., Eric Baker, Kaleb Child and Corrine Child, performed as part of the official launch event for the International Year of Indigenous Languages on Feb.1.

According to the UN, hundreds of ancestral languages have gone silent in recent generations, taking with them the culture, knowledge and traditions of the people who spoke them, which is what the organization wanted to preserve and revitalize those that remain.

UN General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces drew attention to the close connection between indigenous languages and ancestral culture.

“They are much more than tools for communication, they are channels for human legacies to be handed down,” she noted in a release.

“Each indigenous language has an incalculable value for humankind,” she said. “When a language dies, it takes with it all of the memory bound up inside it.”

According to the UN, there are 4,000 indigenous languages in existence across the globe, and many are on the brink of extinction. There are 770 million indigenous people across 90 countries, constituting six per cent of the global population.



erin.haluschak@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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Buttons in different languages promoting 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages at the high-level event held to launch the year. UN Photo/Manuel Elias

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