The First Nations Education Foundation collaborates with First Nation governments to develop language revitalization programs for at-risk indigenous dialects using contemporary educational practices and innovative, interactive technology.
Thunderbird logo by Art Thompson, with permission
"It was the educational system that became the dominant instrument of oppression of Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Part of the solution therefore must lie in an alternative system that attempts to undo the effects of such oppression."
We're starting the conversation, right here in BC.
FNEF is working with the Yuułu?ił?ath Government (Ucluelet First Nation) in Ucluelet, BC on an innovative pilot project for preserving Indigenous languages. Once completed, the Yuułu?ił?ath people will have access to a digital archive and truly living dictionary of Nuu-chah-nulth words, phrases and stories on an interactive digital platform for desktop and mobile language learning. These resources will serve as the base platform to be made available to the other 13 Nuu-chah-nulth nations. The pilot project with the Yuułu?ił?ath Government offers a basis on which a new rapid language curation methodology and technology can be tested and proved, then swiftly replicated within other Indigenous communities in BC and across Canada. This innovative language curation model can be easily customized, allowing the content to be tailored to the special needs of any First Nations community or language, making language preservation and learning strategies feasible for communities of all sizes and resources, supporting the work of community language champions and programs and under the control of those communities to share or utilize the content in any manor they deem appropriate.
Not an endowment fund, FNEF is a foundation in the sense that it provides nations with an infrastructure and methodology through which they can create and sustain their own language revitalization efforts independently and autonomously.
The result is an organic process where language resources are streamlined into a comprehensive archive and made accessible to the whole community through an open-ended digital platform. A 21st century approach makes contemporary learning strategies feasible for small communities and offers real hope for Indigenous language revitalization.
Listening to the experts
Our programs are designed to respond to the conclusions of a report titled Indigenous Languages Recognition, Preservation and Revitalization - A Report on the National Dialogue Session on Indigenous Languages, June 24-26, 2016 Victoria, British Columbia. This document was the result of a conference consisting of twenty Indigenous language experts from across Canada along with representatives from the Department of Canadian Heritage to discuss approaches to Indigenous language revitalization in Canada.
The four conclusions of the report are as follows:
1 A key indicator of a language’s survival is its use by children
2 Language and cultural identity are intrinsically linked, and so maintaining both is a prime concern for reconciliation
3 Language funding must be sustainable to be effective
4 Appropriate principles of ownership, control, access, and possession must apply to language revitalization initiatives