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First Nations Education Foundation invites Canadians to help “Raise the Pole”

Language Revitalization Pole carving “suspended” due to current funding gap: Group issues urgent appeal

“… we’re hoping Canadians, and Canadian corporations, will answer the call to “Raise the Pole” and help us raise the $50,000 we need to get us through the summer to the point in the fall where further funding will hopefully be announced.”

– Les Doiron, volunteer CEO of FNEF and former President of the Yuułuʔiłʔath Government (the Ucluelet First Nation) –

July 29, 2019, Vancouver, B.C. – The First Nations Education Foundation (FNEF) is issuing an urgent appeal for funds to help fill a gap between the funds already raised for carving the Language Revitalization Pole and major contributions and sponsorships expected to arrive in September. The carving part of the project is underway, but funds are needed to keep the work on schedule. The finished Pole is scheduled to be raised during a Pole-raising ceremony at the University of Victoria (UVic) this fall.

The current funding shortfall has led to a temporary halt to the carving work during the crucial summer months; and if $50,000 cannot be raised within the next two weeks, the shortfall threatens to delay the preliminary structural engineering and site preparation work at UVic as well. Delays to the carving and the preliminary site work mean there is a real chance that the Language Pole might not be raised this year in the U.N. Year of Indigenous Languages. By contributing in this way, ordinary Canadians can quite literally help “Raise the Pole”.

Les Doiron, the volunteer CEO of FNEF and former President of the Yuułuʔiłʔath Government (the Ucluelet First Nation), says it’s ironic that the Language Revitalization Pole, as with Indigenous Languages themselves, is now in a race against time. He says the project, and what it symbolizes, is of utmost importance to all First Nations and Indigenous Peoples across Canada.

“We have pending applications with two major Canadian firms for major funding that will hopefully carry the project through to completion, along with a funding application submitted to the Western Economic Diversification “Canadian Experiences Fund” and another application submitted to the Canadian Council for the Arts. However, the potential funds from these sources will not be in place for July and August. That’s why we’re hoping Canadians, and Canadian corporations, will answer the call to “Raise the Pole” and help us raise the $50,000 we need to get us through the summer to the point in the fall where further funding will hopefully be announced.”

Those who would like to contribute can do so through the donation link on the FNEF website at https://fnef.ca/donate/. FNEF is a registered non-profit and has CRA Charitable Status and can issue tax receipts for those who would like one.

Doiron says he is grateful to all those who have responded with generosity to the group’s “Raise the Pole” campaign so far, such as Christopher Devlin of DGW Law in Victoria who, after providing a significant contribution, has issued a pledge to donate $10,000 more if individuals and/or companies can raise $10,000 in matching funds.

“Christopher has come up with a generous and novel way to help us raise the $50,000 we need in the next two weeks,” said Doiron. “Every contribution has been greatly appreciated and helped us accomplish an incredible amount in a very short space of time.”

FNEF Executive Director, Scott Jeary, adds that one of the stated goals of the Language Revitalization Pole is to raise awareness among Canadians in the hope of attracting greater resources, and increasing the number of organisations and individuals stepping up to be disruptors, to help “frustrate and reverse the countdown to extinction” facing so many Indigenous Languages: “Maybe it was meant to be that, on this journey, the Pole had to be in need, just like the languages themselves, to help amplify the message. I’m sure that’s what Master Carver Tim Paul would say, and I think it’s so.”

To underscore the urgency and vital importance of Language Revitalization to his First Nation, and to all Indigenous Peoples, across the Country and around the world, FNEF’s Les Doiron says: “When we embarked on the Language Revitalization Pole project in late January, we had fewer than seven Elder fluent speakers of the Barkley dialect in our Ucluelet First Nation. Today, we are down to just four Elders who can speak the dialect fluently. We are at a crisis point if we can’t raise the funds necessary to complete the Pole project to help sustain our language revitalization programs. In the last seven months, we’ve been able to accomplish more to save our language and inspire people than we have in the previous decade. We can’t stop now.”

For additional background information on the FNEF Language Revitalization Pole project and the Barkley dialect language revitalization program, please see the links to several online resources below.

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Media Contact:

Scott Jeary
604-340-5170
[email protected]

Online resources:

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