The Assembly of First Nations says proposed changes to the Official Languages Act are likely to create “barriers” for Indigenous people hoping to work in federal institutions and advance to higher levels.
The national advocacy organization, representing more than 600 First Nations across the country, issued its warning to a parliamentary committee currently studying amendments to the law.
Last spring, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government introduced planned changes to the Official Languages Act to modernize the legislation, including more measures to promote the use of French.
Among the proposed amendments is the extension of language rights to federally regulated businesses in Quebec or regions elsewhere in Canada that have a francophone population.
In a brief submitted to the committee studying the matter, the Assembly of First Nations says the move is likely to negatively affect First Nations employees looking to work in such areas and advance their careers.
The assembly says placing more bilingualism requirements on First Nations individuals will hurt their employment chances in federal institutions, and it asks Ottawa to provide exemptions for Indigenous people.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2022.