SOHL Press Release!
Saskatchewan Organization for Heritage Languages Inc.
2144 Cornwall Street, Regina, Saskatchewan S4P 2K7
Tel: (306) 780-9275 Fax: (306) 780-9407 Email:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 3, 2016
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT ELIMINATES SUPPORT FOR HERITAGE LANGUAGE LEARNING
The Saskatchewan Organization for Heritage Languages Inc. (SOHL) regrets to announce that after 25 years, the Government of Saskatchewan is discontinuing all support for heritage language learning in Saskatchewan. Since 1991, heritage language schools have depended on this modest funding from the Ministry of Education to help sustain their programs. SOHL requests that the Government of Saskatchewan reconsider this significant decision, and restore funding for heritage language education.
“As a result of the announcement by the Ministry of Education, many of these non-profit heritage language schools will be faced with the difficult decision of whether they can continue to operate,” said Girma Sahlu, SOHL President, “Though SOHL recognizes that revenues are limited and that there is an immense need for English language classes, there is also a clear need for heritage language education.” In addition to providing language and cultural classes, these schools offer a welcoming environment and crucial support for newcomers who are searching for a way to feel at home in their new surroundings.
At a time when our country is accepting many newcomers and supporting the growth of Canada’s multicultural communities, this is a huge step in the wrong direction for our culturally diverse province. Taking into consideration the recent influx of immigrants and refugees to our province, it is imperative to have resources that make newcomers feel welcome. The heritage language schools contribute to the retention of immigrants in Saskatchewan by helping people to maintain their culture, identity, and traditions, while simultaneously learning about Canadian ways of life. Furthermore, studying additional languages offers many benefits for all Canadians, especially in today’s growing international markets.
It is also increasingly important to work towards improving access to Indigenous languages, many of which are endangered. Heritage language programs provide support not only for immigrants, refugees and their descendants, but for Aboriginal peoples, and all Canadians who recognize the benefits of learning additional languages.
SOHL is a provincial cultural non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting languages in Saskatchewan through educational and cultural programs. SOHL’s membership is comprised of over 80 heritage language schools and multicultural organizations, who collectively teach over 40 languages throughout the province. For many years now, these organizations have operated in Saskatchewan with minimal financial support and largely on dedicated volunteer efforts.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Tamara Ruzic, SOHL Executive Director