Endangered languages highlighted by revitalization projects

January 27, 2016

Two endangered Indigenous languages are the subjects of recent revitalization projects, just as Edward John, Chief of the Tl'azt'en Nation in BC and a member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, is calling for more urgent attention to Indigenous language loss around the world. Simon Fraser University and non-profit organization Kwi Awt Stelmexw will be launching a full-time Squamish language immersion program for adult learners starting in fall 2016. The program will run seven hours a day, five days a week; after completing 1,000 classroom hours, students will graduate with a certificate in First Nations language proficiency. The goal is to graduate 15 fluent speakers a year, growing the number of speakers from seven in 2017 to at least 157 by the year 2027. In Canada’s North, a Gwich'in woman is using social media to connect speakers and learners of the Gwich’in language. #SpeakGwichinToMe is modelled after similar campaigns launched by Indigenous language speakers, such as Europe’s Sami people. Social media and technology should become tools to teach young people their languages, said Chief John. SFU | CBC (Squamish) | Program Info | CBC (Gwichin) | Huffington Post