A rally in Victoria at the legislature joined other deaf communities across Canada on Saturday in an effort to have the federal government recognize sign languages as official languages.
The Canadian Association of the Deaf hosted the event, called National Awareness Day, in eight provinces and one territory — including at Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
They are looking for the Indigenous (ISL), American (ASL) and Quebec sign languages (LSQ) to be officially recognized in Canada.
“We are looking to include our languages in Bill C-81 the Accessible Canada’s Act,” said Lindsay Caroll through an interpreter.
“We would [also] like to see indigenous sign language is recognized in the indigenous languages act in Canada,” said Nicole Cellers through an interpreter.
The association hosted the event one day before the official International Day of Sign Languages, established by a United Nations resolution that Canada sponsored.
It also coincides with the International Week of the Deaf, established by the World Federation of the Deaf.
“Part of our goal is to increase access to interpretive services, but also making it easier for us to communicate with people, particularly when deaf people need access to government services,” said Caroll.
The association says 45 other countries have recognized their national sign languages through legislation, and that sign language is a key element of human rights and equal opportunities doe deaf persons.
“We also see this as the opportunity to provide employment, as well as just recognizing equal access to language,” said Caroll.
“The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [which Canada supports]… applies to languages… and this can also apply to us,” added Cellers.
Cellers adds that certain indigenous groups in Canada use a gestural language.