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Supporting the revitalization of Indigenous languages

Indigenous Languages

“We’re at a critical stage with our language with only a few fluent speakers left…”
– Erin Pauls, Dusk’a Head Start Program

PCC supports various Indigenous committees in their efforts to revitalize and protect their languages.  The goal of the programs is to create and support work at all levels that promotes the sustainability of those languages.

Some successful initiatives and collaborations so far include:

Children’s books


PCC has partnered with various organizations to produce and publish children’s books written several languages including Southern Tutchone and Cree (Plains, Swampy, Woods).  An accompanying app was created to allow children to follow along while listening to a native speaker narrate the stories.  The books and app have been widely distributed to libraries and schools and given to kindergarten and grade one students.

This project is a continuation from an earlier initiative, facilitated by PCC, that saw the creation of a content sharing partnership between SayItFirst, a publisher of traditional Aboriginal language content for children and One Laptop per Child Canada (OLPC).

As part of this partnership, digital books written in Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, Ojibwe and Cree were made available to 15,000 Aboriginal youth through laptops and e-readers provided by OLPC.  The content was placed on community servers to make downloading easy in areas without high-speed internet.  All new content produced is added to those servers through our ongoing relationship with OLPC.

The books were written in the traditional language (regular script and phonetics) as well as English and targeted at children ages 3-8, the age most likely to acquire language.

A special thanks to the Government of Canada, First Nations University of Canada and SayItFirst for their support.

First Nations University project brings Cree children’s books to Sask.
CBC News, March 2017

Prince William and Kate to deliver book written in rare native tongue to indigenous children
Toronto Star, September 2016

Revival of endangered aboriginal language empowers speakers in Yukon
The Globe and Mail, October 2016

Digital literacy workshops

PCC has partnered with One Laptop per Child Canada (an organization committed to promoting digital literacy amongst Canada’s First peoples) and First Nations University to provide Indigenous youth with training in the fundamentals of computer animation and programming with an emphasis on revitalization and preservation of local culture and language.

The workshops, held so far at seven Indigenous schools in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Prince Edward Island give students the skills to create original projects in their languages and share them with the community.

The laptops used for the training remain as a permanent donation to the school.

 

Cree TV Show

PCC has supported the production of a video with a focus on teaching Plains Cree language fundamentals to children (ages 3-5).  The television program is dramatized entirely in Cree using puppets, animation and live-actors from Cree speaking communities.  The video also features the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan speaking Cree as part of the opening sequence.

It has been shared widely with teachers, schools and the general community as a tool to instruct students in the Cree language.

We are currently exploring funding possibilities for future episodes in Cree and other languages.

Inuit study tour of Wales

Upon learning of their efforts to revitalize Inuktut and create a unified writing method for Inuit across Canada’s Arctic, PCC arrange for the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) language committee to come to Wales for a week-long study tour.

The committee met with academics, government officials and artists to learn from the successful revitalization of the Welsh language.  The trip served to inspire as well as provide practical ideas that could be adopted to the Arctic context.

For more information you can read their report here. (link to report)

Thank you to The Government of Canada, The Gordon Foundation and Shelly Jamieson for their support of our visit.

How to save a dwindling language: Inuit fly to Wales and back
CBC News, December 2016

Inuit inspired by Welsh language asks Prince Charles for help
BBC News, December 2016

Inuit delegation look to Wales for language preservation lessons
Global News, December 2016

“I have been greatly honoured to be welcomed into quite a large number of First Nations communities during my many journeys to Canada and to experience the diversity of their peoples and cultures.”

– His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales