TORONTO — Decades after being punished in a residential school for speaking his own language, Sol Mamakwa (MAH'-mah-kwah) will hold the powerful to account at Ontario's legislature in the very same language past governments tried to bury.

On Tuesday, the only First Nation legislator at Queen's Park will rise in the House and ask a question in Oji-Cree.

His mother, sister, brothers, friends and elders will watch from the gallery.

For the first time in its history, the Ontario legislature will allow, interpret and transcribe a language other than English and French.

Mamakwa, a New Democrat, has convinced Progressive Conservative Government House Leader Paul Calandra to make the changes both now and for any future Indigenous provincial parliamentarian.

Mamakwa says language is nationhood, identity, a crucial link to history and an integral part of him and his people.

He intends to ask a question about health care.


The Canadian Press