This paper addresses language policy and policy-making in Canada as forms of discourse produced and reproduced within systems of power and racial hierarchies. The analysis of indigenous language policy to be addressed here focuses on the historical, political and legal processes stemming from the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (1963–1969) to the 1982 Canadian Constitution and its aftermath. Through a critical historical and discursive analysis, we demonstrate how racial hierarchies and language ideologies favoured French and English dominance and reinforced the marginalisation of indigenous groups defined in terms of the socially constructed and assigned category of race. We relate these race-based language policies to contemporary indigenous language struggles in Canada, including the Task Force Report on Aboriginal Languages and Cultures (2005), and describe the logic imposed by colonial constitutional arrangements on indigenous language promotion, revitalisation and mobilisation in Canada.

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Keywords indigenous language, linguistic assimilation, national language policies, neoliberalism, racial hierarchies
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Journal Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Haque, E. (Eve), & Patrick, D. (2015). Indigenous languages and the racial hierarchisation of language policy in Canada. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 36(1), 27–41. doi:10.1080/01434632.2014.892499