Archive for the ‘British Columbia’ Category

“We Are Our Language”

3 July 2012

Published last year, “We Are Our Language: An Ethnography of Language Revitalization in a Northern Athabaskan Community” is a volume by Barbra A. Meek, associate professor of anthropology and linguistics at the University of Michigan.

According to the book’s page,

The process must mend rips and tears in the social fabric of the language community that result from an enduring colonial history focused on termination. These “disjunctures” include government policies conflicting with community goals, widely varying teaching methods and generational viewpoints, and even clashing ideologies within the language community.

The language that is the focus of the book is Kaska (kkz), a language spoken in the Yukon Territory and British Columbia. According to a review by Patrick Moore in last fall’s edition of Anthropological Linguistics, the book discusses how focusing on elders in revitalization alienates younger speakers.

Google previews of the book are available at “We Are Our Language.” The table of contents are:

  • Ruptured: Kaska in Context
  • Endangered Languages and the Process of Language Revitalization
  • Growing Up Endangered
  • Manufacturing Legitimate Languages
  • “We Are Our Language”: The Political Discourses of Language Endangerment
  • From Revitalization to Socialization: Disjuncture and Beyond
 This book is the part of a series titled “First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies,” a collaboration of four university presses.

High school to offer Sencoten

18 June 2012

Stelly’s Secondary School, a high school in the Canadian town of Central Saanich, BC, will be offering language lessons in Saanich (str-saa) this fall.

Written also as Sənčaθən, as well as SENĆOŦEN in the language itself, Saanich is considered a dialect of North Straits Salish (str). According to “Language holds keys to history,” 50 students have already signed up for the course.

Give me an “S,”
Give me an “E,”
Give me an “N,”
Give me a “Ć….”

Job opening in Vancouver area – language coordinator

30 May 2012

Two days ago, the First Nations Education Steering Committee posted a job opening for a first nations language and culture coordinator. The job entails managing and coordinating initiatives of the FNESC and the First Nations Schools Association, providing leadership and acting as a liaison to various groups.

Skills required include an understanding of First Nations education issues, an education degree and three years of teaching experience including work in the field of First Nations languages .

The application period is through 11 June. The post is in West Vancouver, BC.

Mining organization makes donation

6 May 2011

According to “B.C. miners dig deep to save endangered indigenous languages” in the Vancouver Sun, the Mining Association of B.C. is donating $125,000 to the First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation for language revitalization. Although an unprecedented move by the MABC, it was thought appropriate as mining occurs on First Nations land. Among other things, the FBCF runs the FirstVoices website.

British Columbia and surrounding provinces and states make up one of the world’s hotspots, where a large number of languages are in danger of dying. See the First Peoples Language Map of British Columbia to learn more about the language diversity in British Columbia.

See also “Mining Association of BC Commits $125,000 over Three Years to First Nations Language Renewal in BC” on the MABC site for details about the donation.

Tweets meet digital billboard meets Native cultures

5 April 2011

Clint Burnham has teamed up with Lorna Brown to create public art on the Burrard Street Bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia. On the south end of the bridge is an electronic billboard—the sort you see announcing traffic delays on the highway—located on Squamish Nation land.

The title of this art project is “Digital Natives,” and its form is short messages displayed on the billboard. Through April, Digital Natives is inviting North American artists and writers (Native or not) to send short messages up to 140 characters in length, or Tweets, through their Twitter account @diginativ. They will select up to 30 for display on the bulletin board beginning mid-April.

Part of the project appears to be translating Tweets into First Nations languages. Some of the difficulties and successes of translation to Kwak’wala (kwk) are discussed in “Learning through translation” on the Digital Natives site. Other languages of the project include Squamish (squ)—the language of the Squamish Nation—and hǝn’q’ǝmin’ǝm’—the Downriver dialect of Halkomelem (hur).

The show is from Other Sights for Artists’ Projects. Read also the biographies for the many contributors to this project.

The article “‘Digital Natives'” on the Tyee site provided the inspiration and much of the material for this blog entry.

Squamish Language is in the process of creating podcasts for learning Squamish. So far, four are available. Podcasts can be downloaded onto iTunes on your personal computer or onto your iPhone, iPod or iPad.

$500K Grant for BC First Nations Language Teachers

2 April 2011

On Thursday, the Ministry of Advanced Education of British Columbia, Canada, announced a CAD 500,000 grant to the to the First Nations Education Steering Committee Society. The grant will assist First Nations in the province develop and implement programs for teachers of First Nations languages.

Specifically, programs for Developmental Standard Term Certificates will be aided. The DSTC requires three years of university training and is intended to provide a way for those with practical skills to teach kindergarten through twelfth grade. The DTSC is issued by the British Columbia College of Teachers.

Read the BC government announcement.

Native speakers of First Nations languages may also be interested in the First Nations Language Teacher Certificate, also available through the BCCT.

Hip hop Musqueam performer in the news

2 April 2011

Crunch, or Christie Lee Charles as she’s known off-stage, speaks hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓, the Downriver dialect of Halkomelem (hur) spoken by the Musqueam Indian Band in British Columbia, Canada. She learned the language from her great-uncle and in high school from the First Nations Languages Program.

Crunch has taken her heritage language in a new direction, developing and performing rap. She performed at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, at the Utopia Festival at Storyeum for International Women’s Day last month, and at other venues such as a Kelowna talent show.

According to “First Nations Female Artists,” she began performing the language in hip hop after obtaining permission from elders. Christie Lee Charles is also featured in “Young mom performs hip hop in Musqueam dialect,” on the CTV News site.

British Columbian Language Funding

25 June 2007

Last week, the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation of British Columbia announced funding in the amount of $1.2 million to support language and culture in the westernmost province of Canada.

According to the press release, $500,000 or just over 40% of that funding will come from the New Relationship Trust (NRT), a non-profit organization supporting First Nation communities in areas such as education language and economic development. The remaining amount will come from the province itself, the Aboriginal Head Start Association of BC (AHABC), and the First Peoples’ Heritage, Language and Culture Council (FPHLCC).

In addition to supporting community language/culture authorities, the funding will assist with language/culture camps, master-apprentice programs, and pre-school immersion programs.

The FPHLCC has put together a useful online Language Toolkit to assist people wanting to learn an endangered language, type in it, or put together a revitalization program. It also includes further links to funding sources, stories for children, and documents such as sample consent forms useful for language research programs.