McGill University´s Elbira Zipitria Chair kicks off with an educational day on language planning, teaching and usage

Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.


McGill University and the Etxepare Basque Institute have launched a new Basque Studies Chair in Montreal. The chair is named after Elbira Zipitria, an outstanding schoolteacher, educator, and one of the forerunners of the Basque-language Ikastola system.

Garbiñe Iztueta, head of the Etxepare Basque Institute´s department of Promotion and Dissemination, spoke about the new programme. "This chair is a project that will connect Basque studies with social innovation. Both parties are convinced that relevant contributions can be made in this field both from Quebec and Basque experience." The Elbira Zipitria Chair will research the innovative movements that have emerged on a social and cultural level, and their contribution to the Basque language.

In addition to signing the agreement to set the Chair in motion, an inaugural colloquium was held yesterday with experts and researchers from Quebec and the Basque Country. The speakers addressed the role that cultural innovation strategies can play in the development of non-hegemonic languages. Three experts came from the Basque Country: Fernández (University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU); Miren Azkarate, profesor at UPV/EHU, and Pablo Suberbiola, researcher with the Sociolinguistic Cluster.

Fernandez focused on the figure of Elbira Zipitria. "In the original communities of the region – those that suffered colonisation – which are currently very weakened, it is the women who have play a leading role in the continuance of the language. The figure of Elbira Zipitria and the phenomenon that took place in the Basque Country more than half a century ago is a source of hope and encouragement to continue along this path," said Fernandez.

Azkarate, in turn, explained the road travelled so far in the Basque Autonomous Community, from the point of view of language planning, both in the public administration and in education and the socio-economic sphere. She underlined the ongoing challenges in moving from knowledge of the language to its use in all areas.

Suberbiola wrapped up the event by describing the Basque language initiative Euskaraldia to the researchers, teachers and experts in attendance. He explained the basis for Euskaraldia from the point of view of its capacities and limitations to change linguistic habits. He also presented the main keys to the initiative from the perspective of social innovation.

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