New community initiative promotes Indigenous language preservation

Northern/NorthMart customers will now see and hear more Indigenous languages in their community store. To support the revitalization and preservation of Indigenous language, Northern/ NorthMart now provides Indigenous translations on shelf labels and signs across more than 80 grocery categories and everyday items. 

The program, which is believed to be the first offered by a major Canadian retailer, is aimed at communicating in the language actively used in each community to enhance the customer’s shopping experience, as well as promote the use and learning of the language. QR code enabled shelf labels will help support education by providing the translation in audio formats – helping non-Indigenous language speakers to hear the proper pronunciation.  The ambitious translation project, with 121 communities across northern Canada and over 30 different languages or dialects, recognizes the importance of language to sustaining culture around the world and especially within the Indigenous communities that Northern/NorthMart serves across Canada. 
 In addition to using professional translators, Northern/NorthMart collaborated with Elders, language teachers, and cultural centres at a local and regional level to ensure accurate and culturally appropriate translations.

“Languages are being lost; we have to do our utmost to preserve and protect them from eroding” says Garrison Settee, a Vice Principal in Cross Lake. “Promoting language in our schools and public places such as NorthMart is the best way to start.”

“This initiative responds to our customer’s needs and their community priorities, which are closely intertwined at North West, and go to the heart of our community promise to help make a positive, progressive difference in each community we serve,” said Craig Gilpin, Executive Vice President at The North West Company.

(Scan the QR code or click the image above to hear "canned vegetables" pronounced in the Inuktitut South Baffin dialect)