Community Group

Speaking Home

by Nadim Iqbal

“Speaking Home” is an innovative exposer of mother languages spoken by people celebrating the multicultural superstructure of Nova Scotia. On the occasion of the International Mother Language Day 2020 celebration held under the auspices of the province of Nova Scotia and the local Bangladeshi diaspora, the Bangladesh Community Association of Nova Scotia (BDCANS) developed this film highlighting the challenges and perspectives of linguistic diversity in Nova Scotia.

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On November 17, 1999, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference declared February 21 to be observed as the International Mother Language Day to promote peace, linguistic and cultural diversity, multilingualism and the protection of all mother languages. International Mother Language Day has been observed worldwide annually since 2000. The date commemorates the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language Bangla, as one of the two national languages, were shot and killed by government forces in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh. This day has an emotional bearing on the Bangladeshis as they recall the sacrifice of the language martyrs on that day to preserve their cultural identity. Rafiqul Islam, a Canadian citizen who is originally from Bangladesh was the prime mover for declaration of 21 February as the International Mother Language Day at the UN in reverence to the day when Bengalis rose and fell to protect their mother language at Dhaka in 1952.

Multiculturalism is not a mere slogan. It grows on the robust health of the component cultures. Each such culture's edifice is built on the mother language of the people born and nurtured into members of the society to which they belong. It is the root that establishes their identity as they share the same language and cultural mores. As UNESCO states “Learning in a language they can understand is vital for children to enjoy their right to quality education. Mother tongue and multicultural education are keys to reducing discrimination, promoting inclusion and improving learning outcomes for all”. Canada strongly recognizes the value of mother languages and multiculturalism; and supports the revitalization of indigenous languages.

Bangladesh Community Association of Nova Scotia (BDCANS) has been commemorating the International Mother Language Day in partnership with the Nova Scotia Department of Community Culture and Heritage, Halifax Libraries, Diversity and Inclusions, Local Immigration Partnership and Halifax Language Consortium. The province of Nova Scotia and Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) has proclaimed the Day in Nova Scotia and HRM. The celebration of International Mother Language Day 2020 was held along with Halifax Language Fair organized by the Halifax Language Forum. The partnership of the two major language events in Halifax was a vibrant event dedicated to the celebration and promotion of multilingualism in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The commemorations of the Mother Language Day in Nova Scotia turned into increasing awareness to promote linguistic diversity for multicultural sustainability in the province. We realizes the

BDCANS developed this film “Speaking Home” highlighting the history of The International Mother Language Day, the status and challenges of preserving different indigenous and ethnic community languages in Nova Scotia and conveying the importance of promoting and preserving linguistic identities in cultural and community development. This film is an innovative exposer for mother languages spoken by people celebrating the multicultural superstructure of Nova Scotia and raising awareness on the importance of preserving heritage languages for the growing diversity in Canada.