International Linguapax Award 2016 acknowledges two complementary visions of Language diversity

Two associations advocating for aboriginal languages in the Norther Territory of Australia and and for heritage languages in Canada co-winners of the prize: Yambirrpa School Council/Djarrma Action Group of the Yolngu community of Yirrkala in the Northern Territory of Australia, and the International and Heritage Languages Association from Canada.

Since 2002, Linguapax commemorates the International Mother Language Day, proclaimed by UNESCO to highlight the importance of linguistic diversity, announcing the winner of the International Linguapax Award granted to linguists/researchers, activists and civil society organizations that have distinguished themselves for their commitment in favor of linguistic diversity and multilingual education.

This year, the votes of the jury made up of fourty international experts ended in a tie between two organizations that are geographically distant and diverse in their approach to promoting diversity. Both, however, share the perseverance and the will to preserve languages that are either threatened in their own territory or are part of the assets of displaced individuals and populations.

One winner is the Yambirrpa School Council/Djarrma Action Group representing 14 Aboriginal language groups of the Yolngu people of Yirrkala and Laynhapuy in Arnherm Land (Northern Territory, Australia). These institutions carry on the struggle initiated more than 40 years ago by the community elders to convey the cultural and linguistic heritage of their people through bilingual teaching programmes in Yolngu, in steady decline since 1980 due to government action.

The other winner is the International and Heritage Languages ​​Association IHLA, founded in 1977 in Alberta (Canada) to help build a multicultural and multilingual country. The IHLA advocates for the acknowledgement, accreditation and legitimacy of heritage languages learner’s skills in high shools, for the recognition of heritage language teachers’ backgrounds, for raising awareness among young people, general public and politicians and decision makers of the values ​​of multilingualism.