The Role of Indigenous Language Translation in the Midst of Climate Change: Negotiating displacement, loss of land, language and culture

In this Decade of Indigenous languages, to draw the world’s attention to the critical loss of indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and celebrate them, we are pleased to present a global panel discussion, around indigenous language translation in midst of climate change.

On November 25, 2023, the FIT Indigenous Languages Standing Committee hosted a webinar titled The Role of Indigenous Language Translation in Midst of Climate Change: Negotiating Displacement, Loss of Land, Language and Culture.

Losing indigenous languages means a loss of cultural diversity, and the centuries-old knowledge contained within them, which could solve the current global challenges around climate destruction and biodiversity loss. Much of historical learning and knowledge about the planet is indigenous knowledge, therefore translation, interpreting and terminology for indigenous languages is key to unlocking that crucial knowledge.

Very few, less than 2%, of indigenous languages have any real presence online, this means millions of indigenous languages speakers and signers are excluded from full participation in aspects of society and it shows the need for the intentional development of a truly multilingual digital landscape.

This is why the SDGs are part of the solution: the SDGs bring to the forefront the importance of people in the future of the planet.

Sustainability and climate action are not as much about saving the planet as they are about saving the people, and that includes our land, our languages, and our cultures.

We thank our invited speakers Wayne Jackson, Marilyn Shirt, Ksenia Dubrovskikh, Olga Latysheva and Sibusiso Biyela and the indigenous language interpreters Maya Lyutyanskaya and Tina Wellman who made the event possible.

Our Presenters:

From Canada

Elder Wayne Jackson: From Goodfish Lake First Nations Treaty Six Territory, Alberta, Canada. Instructor, resource developer and Director of Nehiyawe Cultural Institute in Edmonton, Alberta. He will present on: “nipiy ê-pimâcîhikoyahk”: How water sustains us and gives us life in relation to language and culture.

Dr. Marilyn Shirt: From Saddle Lake Cree Nation in Alberta is the Team Lead (Dean) for the Indigenous Language program at University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’įnistameyimakanak Blue Quills (UnBQ). She will present on the Impact of Climate Change on Indigenous Language Revitalization and Translation.

From Russia

Ksenia Dubrovskikh: Lecturer of Translation and Applied Linguistics at NArFU named after M.V. Lomonosov, Arkhangelsk. She will focus on Climate ChangeDiscourse and its Anthropomorphic Specifics.

Olga Latysheva: Deputy Director of the Ethno-Cultural Centre of the Nenets Autonomous District. She will focus on: Translation of Nenets Folklore and Climate Change Evidence in Oral Texts of the Nenets People.

From South Africa

Sibusiso Biyela: Science and research communicator at ScienceLink based in South Africa who has done extensive research on the Zulu Royal Family and the KwaZulu Natal province. He has done much work documenting the lifestyle of Indigenous tribes in South Africa. He will present on Applying the Principles of Science Communication and Decolonization in Translating the Science of Climate Change into African Languages.