This presentation is part of a larger project to explore the genealogy of the current proposal for a First Nations, Inuit and Metis Languages Act in Canada, slated for 2019. As such, this paper will focus on a genealogical reading of two Royal Commissions that were significant precursors to this current proposed Act, the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (RCBB) (1963-1970) and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) (1991-1996) in order to illuminate how claims to language are used in white settler colonial processes, both historical and contemporary, in order to continue to exclude a full acknowledgement of Indigenous rights into the present. This presentation will outline how Indigenous peoples came to be excluded from the status of founding peoples, despite considerable resistance from Indigenous communities, through the mobilization of ‘expert’ knowledge that pathologized Indigenous languages and cultures as too big a ‘problem’ for the RCBB to contend with and therefore something to be dealt with through a future royal commission. It would take approximately 20 years, including international scrutiny on the ‘Oka Crisis’(1990), for this subsequent royal commission to be called.
Eve Haque is Associate Professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics at York University. Her research and teaching interests include multiculturalism, white settler nationalism and language policy, with a focus on the regulation and representation of racialized im/migrants in white settler societies. Her current work explores the coloniality of national integration policies. She has published in such journals as Social Identities, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development and Canadian Ethnic Studies, among others. She is also the author of Multiculturalism Within a Bilingual Framework: Language, Race and Belonging in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2012).