A new degree is being developed to support the revitalization of First Nations languages in British Columbia.
The program is being developed with a number of post-secondary institutions including UBC.
“First Nations languages are the original languages of this province, and are a critical component of our identity as First Nations peoples,” says First Nations Education Steering Committee president Tyrone McNeil. “The First Nations language fluency degree initiative is an opportunity to directly support First Nations language revitalization and the implementation of the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework. This funding provided by the Ministry of Advanced Education provides crucial support to the collective efforts of our partnership.”
The province is providing $103,300 toward the development of an Indigenous Language Fluency Degree. Efforts to establish the degree arose through community consultations undertaken by the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) and the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association (IAHLA).
They have partnered with a consortium of post-secondary institutions, including Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, Wilp Wilxo’oskwhl Nisga’a, En’owkin Centre, the University of British Columbia and the University of Northern British Columbia.
“Through consultations, we’re creating relationships and curricular structures that build on the strengths and capacities of each of the partners involved, including the communities served,” said Jeannette Armstrong, Canada research chair in Indigenous Philosophy and assistant professor of Indigenous studies at UBC Okanagan. “These partnerships will be integrated into a growing network of expertise and experience which will help expand effective language training capacity and move work forward on an Indigenous Language Fluency Degree.”
Public post-secondary institutions in British Columbia offer a range of Aboriginal language related courses and programs, including Developmental Standard Term Certificate programs leading to certification of Aboriginal language teachers. Aboriginal-controlled institutes in B.C. have consistently maintained a focus and commitment to providing community-based First Nations language learning programs.
“Our government is funding the development of a new degree that will help to preserve First Nations languages,” said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. “Language preservation is crucial to keeping the connection to our First Nations stories.”
• British Columbia’s 203 First Nations communities have 34 languages, more than any other province in Canada.
• First Peoples’ Cultural Council is a B.C. Crown corporation dedicated to the revitalization of First Nations languages, arts and heritage in B.C.