I wanted to start off by thanking Tamal, a blogger from Bangladesh, for writing to me about the history of International Mother Language Day.
Here is a very brief summary of the reason International Mother Language Day is celebrated on February 21st:
The Bengali Connection. On February 21, 1952, Bengali students at the University of Dhaka demonstrated for the recognition of their mother tongue as one of the official languages in the newly formed Pakistan, where Urdu was declared the official language. Clashes with police that day resulted in the deaths of demonstrators. Years of conflict followed between the Bengalis of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and the Pakistani government for the recognition of Bengali. In 1956 Bengali was recognized as an official language in Pakistan.
Back to the Present: Celebrations in Canada This Year (a few examples)
- Toronto, ON: The Bangladeshi-Canadian Community Services and Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services will be celebrating the day on February 25th with Bangla poetry and cultural performances on the Danforth. For more information click here.
- Surrey, BC: Kwantlen Polytechnic University , celebrated the day on February 11th, with music in the five languages taught in their language and cultures department (French, Japanese, Mandarin, Punjabi, and Spanish). For information on the event click here.
- Regina, SK: The Saskatchewan Organization for Heritage Languages board celebrated the day on February 11th with performances in 10 mother tongues. For information on the event click here.
Top image is an infographic from UNESCO http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/ED/ED/pdf/imld2017-infographics-en.pdf
Images below are from the CBC online report on Feb 11, 2011 “Culture celebrated in Regina ahead of International Mother Language Day” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/regina-celebrates-heritage-language-1.3978867