Federal government invests nearly $ 7 million in revitalizing Indigenous languages ​​in British Columbia


The Sḵwx̱wú7mesh signs along the Sea to Sky Highway feature place names like K’emk’emelay, which some have translated in Vancouver. (CBC – image credit)

The revitalization of Indigenous languages ​​in British Columbia has received a boost from the federal government, which has just invested $ 6.86 million in First Nations language programs through the First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC ).

The latest funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage brings the federal government’s total investment to $ 14.6 million this year, according to CPAC.

Earlier this year, the government of British Columbia confirmed that there will be no provincial funding for the revitalization of Indigenous languages ​​this year. It devoted $ 50 million to language revitalization projects over three years starting in 2018. This funding has not been renewed.

“In April, we really felt that there would be a shortfall,” said Tracey Herbert, CEO of FPCC.

“But because the Department of Canadian Heritage has provided additional resources, we are actually going to consider giving almost the same amount of grants as last year.”

Herbert said they were able to support around 700 grants last year.

The FPCC, a provincial Crown corporation, is dedicated to helping First Nations in British Columbia revitalize their languages, arts and cultures.

He says funding will go to immersion strategies, language planning, resource development and more to support the preservation and revitalization of 34 First Nations languages ​​in the province. In fact, the FPCC claims that funding has already been distributed to communities that have already submitted grant applications.

“The design of the programs [is] really about the unique needs of each community. So there is a lot of flexibility in terms of what each community will implement, ”said Herbert.

Herbert said the organization is looking to secure sustainable funding, and more for years to come. Ideally, she said, they would like to operate on a budget of $ 59 million each year.

“In British Columbia we have critically endangered languages,” she said.

“Many of our languages ​​have very few fluent speakers.”

Herbert said community-based programs allow native language speakers to document the language, teach it to others, and pass the torch to new generations as elders age and become unable to manage these programs.

She added that a combination of face-to-face lessons and the use of technology is important when it comes to revitalizing the language.

“You need to have multiple strategies and multiple areas to progress. If you only invest in one thing, you’re not going to revitalize languages.”

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