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Posted: June 24, 2022

B.C. invests in First Nations language, arts, culture and heritage

New provincial funding is being aimed at supporting and strengthening the reclamation and revitalization of First Nations languages, arts, culture and heritage across B.C.

The province is providing close to $35 million in new funding to the First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC) and the First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation (FPCF) to support First Nations languages, arts, and cultural heritage revitalization programming and operations. This investment builds upon a landmark $50-million grant provided to FPCC in 2018 to address the language crisis and help revitalize Indigenous languages in British Columbia.

“Together with our partners, we are taking action to reverse the disruption to Indigenous languages from the history of colonization. We want a province where Indigenous languages and cultures are living, used, taught and celebrated throughout their respective territories,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “Together with the First Peoples’ Cultural Council and First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation, we are supporting Indigenous communities’ work to restore the vitality of First Nations languages, arts, and cultural practices and investing in the future of Indigenous communities.”

“This new funding is an important step forward in fulfilling FPCC’s mandate to strengthen and revitalize our First Nations languages, arts, culture and heritage,” said Tracey Herbert, CEO, First Peoples’ Cultural Council. “We are excited to respond to the needs identified by our Knowledge Keepers by creating more opportunities to share their Indigenous knowledge with the next generation. FPCC will continue to build technology, resources, programs and employment opportunities to ensure that our living cultural spaces, practices and knowledge are thriving into the future.”

FPCC and FPCF are revitalizing Indigenous languages, arts, and heritage in British Columbia. Together, their expertise, strong relationships and decades of experience working alongside First Nations across B.C. on cultural revitalization has translated into measurable progress.

“Languages, arts, cultures and heritage are the lifeblood of our communities and integral to our well-being, individually and collectively,” said Lorna Wánosts’a7 Williams, board chair, First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation. “Funding like this contributes to innovative tools and programs needed for the critical work of documenting, safeguarding and rebuilding our cultural systems so we can pass them on to future generations.”

The FPCC is a First Nations-governed Crown corporation mandated to support the revitalization of First Nations languages, arts, cultures and heritage in B.C.

The FPCF is an Indigenous-led registered charity that works closely with FPCC to provide grant funding and resources to First Nations organizations and communities, and supports the vitality of First Nations languages, arts, culture and heritage in B.C.

Of this new funding, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training is providing $2.6 million to FPCC to boost the Youth Empowered Speakers (YES) Program. The program provides B.C. First Nations students who are studying education and early childhood education with one-on-one mentor-apprentice language learning and funding to support their post-secondary studies. The program addresses the need to develop new First Nations language speakers to become immersion teachers who will work in First Nations communities to deliver community immersion programming across the province.

British Columbia has incredible language diversity and is home to 34 First Nations languages and more than 90 dialects, making up more than half of all First Nations languages in Canada.

The levels of young learners are increasing. As of the 2018 Report on the Status of B.C. First Nations Languages, there were 13,997 new learners and 4,132 speakers and 78% of new learners were younger than 25.

Funding from the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation includes:

* $25 million over three fiscal years to FPCF for arts and cultural heritage programming; and

* $7.15 million to FPCC in new 2022-2023 operational funding for staffing, research, reporting, technology and direct supports for communities such as coaching, training and resources.

Funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training:

* $2.6 million to support the Youth Empowered Speakers (YES) Program, which combines mentor-apprentice immersion learning, internships, and post-secondary education funding to develop fluent language teachers and early childhood educators.

* FPCC, FPCF, the Province and the federal government are working together with First Nations throughout B.C. on many fronts to reclaim and revitalize First Nations languages and knowledge systems.

Lead image: First Peoples’ map of B.C. First Peoples’ Cultural Council map


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