The First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC) was formed by the BC government in 1990. The mandate of the FPCC is to assist Indigenous communities in British Columbia in their efforts to revitalize their languages and, arts, and cultures. The FPCC funds a wide range of Indigenous language initiatives including digitization, preservation, teacher training, and more.
One of the FPCC’s guiding principles is “All that we know, and all of our relationships grows from the words of our ancestors.”
In the last year, the FPCC has funded more than 600 language-related projects. Aliana Parker, FPCC language program manager, spoke of the long-term vision of the organization, “The vision is that all First Nations languages in B.C. have stable populations of speakers who are passing their languages on to the next generations,” she said.
Every four years, the FPCC releases a report on the status of First Nation languages. According to the most recent report, there are 34 Indigenous languages and more than 90 dialects in BC all of which are considered endangered. In 2018 there were a reported 4,132 speakers total or 3.0 percent of Indigenous people in B.C. The next report will be released in 2022.
With 60 percent of Indigenous languages in Canada in the area known as BC, this is one of the most linguistically diverse regions of the world.
While the pandemic has impacted the FPCC’s funded language programs many have been able to adapt and shift to a digital landscape to continue their work. In fact, the switch to digital delivery has allowed for many programs to have a wider reach and higher enrollments.
Elder Dorothy Sinclair Eastman is an Ojibway language teacher from Little Saskatchewan Reserve in Manitoba. Eastman is pleased to see a growing movement of reclamation of culture and preserving knowledge. Learning from Elders is important, she says, and this can’t fully happen without the language.
People are attracted to learning their languages because it helps them heal some of those missing parts, says Eastman. She has seen the change when people start to learn. In addition, Eastman says that people are attracted to learning their languages because it helps them heal some of their missing parts.
Language can cultivate a deeper connection between generations and from that connection comes guidance and healthier paths.
Visit the First People’s Cultural Council website to access resources and language programs in your area.