Celebrating culture with conversations: #IYIL2019

By Chelsie Klassen | August 9, 2019

Each year, August 9th marks the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Year over year a new thematic focus is chosen to promote awareness on a topic of international concern and interest. This year is dedicated to the International Year of Indigenous Languages, highlighting the troubling loss of Indigenous languages and the critical need to protect them.

Language is the fundamental tool of communication and more than a means of interaction. Languages advance education and social development, are an essential part of our culture and a source of identity, and relay the stories that define our history. It’s required to bridge relationships and it’s a tool to meet the needs of peace building. Critical to sustainability, we use language to defend our human rights, express our traditions, and construct our future.

Despite their immeasurable worth, languages worldwide are disappearing–quickly. It’s estimated that every two weeks an Indigenous language “falls off the map.” And of the almost 7,000 languages in the world, many of them have Indigenous origins. With the loss of languages comes the risk of losing culture and diversity–a risk we can’t afford.

The UN declared 2019 to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages that brings global attention to the dangers confronting Indigenous languages. In this vein, the UN calls on all of us to take action that will:

  • Support linguistic and cultural continuity
  • Increase international cooperation and understanding
  • Celebrate the Indigenous community
  • Strengthen the assimilation of Indigenous languages
  • Encourage intercultural dialogue, incite action
  • Promote and protect languages
  • Safeguard the world’s rich cultural diversity

But it’s not all work and no play–international days of recognition are opportunities to celebrate and learn about our differences. We know from experience that diverse teams are stronger and together develop unique solutions. Today, we’re paying tribute to our diverse workforce and the communities that we interact with globally. When we can enable diverse teams that have a plurality of thought and a fully inclusive environment, we create a better world for everyone.

So today, let’s celebrate!

For more information on IYIL2019, please visit https://en.iyil2019.org/.