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

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 12:06 PDT, Fri June 17, 2022

New provincial funding will support and strengthen the reclamation and revitalization of First Nations languages, arts, culture, and heritage across B.C.

"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."

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.

"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, chief executive officer, 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."

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.

"Investing in future generations of language learners not only benefits today's First Nations youth by providing them with a comprehensive skill set for life in the workforce, but it also nurtures the development of language-immersion skills through relationships across generations that last a lifetime," said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training.

FPCC, the province, and Canada are committed to working together over the long term to advance the reclamation, revitalization, and maintenance of First Nations languages, heritage, and arts in B.C.

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