RAIN, hail or shine, Canberra language lovers will be out in force this Sunday, February 21, to mark the UNESCO-designated International Mother Language Day with a lakeside language walk.
This is the eighth year that the Canberra-based International Mother Language Movement has organised the annual walk, which sees people from Canberra’s multiplicity of communities wearing colourful traditional clothes, waving banners and posters and singing as they walk across Kings Avenue bridge to raise awareness of the value of all languages.
On hand to join in the chorus of hellos — buonjiorno, namaste, mangwanani, ni hao ma, selamat pagi, and many more — will be members of the Ngunnawal community, the Bangladeshi high commissioner, a United Nations representative, who will speak briefly before ACT Multicultural Affairs and Arts Minister Tara Cheyne officially calls the start of the walk.
While last year’s event was incorporated into the main National Multicultural Festival in Civic and Glebe Park, this year’s walk will begin under the flags near the National Library before crossing Kings Avenue bridge and concluding at the National Police Memorial. Covid compliance measures will be in place, with hand sanitisers and masks available.
February 21 was proclaimed as International Mother Language Day by UNESCO in November 1999 in recognition of the date in 1952 when students in the then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, lost their lives when demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla.
But it has since grown to become an international movement supporting heritage and mother languages and cultural understanding, celebrate all around the world.
Mother Language Walk, at the international flag display near the National Library of Australia, 10.30am, Sunday, February 21. Free event, all languages welcome. All details here.