Many reports and studies over the last 10 years indicate that most of Canada’s Indigenous languages are declining and are at risk of extinction. Onowa McIvor in 2009 reported that at first European contact there were an estimated 450 aboriginal languages and dialects, now there are only about 60 languages still spoken. Statistics Canada reported in 2001 that North American Indians with the ability to converse in their native language fell from 20% in 1996 to 16% in 2001.
The Northwest Territories has the most advanced Aboriginal language legislation and policies in Canada supported by the 1984 Official languages Act. In 1999 the NWT Literacy Council published “Languages of the Land” A resource manual for individuals and communities interested in Aboriginal language development. In 2010, the Government of the NWT published an Aboriginal Languages Plan to set out a framework for strengthening their nine aboriginal languages over the next decade.
British Columbia has 32 of Canada’s First Nations languages and about 59 dialects. At the time of colonization in BC 100% of the First Nations people were fluent in at least one language. This number has dropped dramatically since the late 1800’s to just 5% today. The First Peoples’ Heritage, Language and Culture Council published a report on the Status of BC First Nations Languages in 2010 with a real need to act to save and preserve what is left.
One common theme throughout all of these reports is to find opportunities for youth to connect and communicate in their native language with fluent speakers and elders. This can be done through immersion camps, language nests and other intergenerational ties.
Academica Group is a Canadian based research and marketing consultancy focused on post-secondary education. They conduct research, and highlight trends for post-secondary institutes to help them map out the changing roads ahead. They provide a free subscription service called Top Ten, a daily news brief. Many post-secondary institute leaders, managers and administrators subscribe to this service for daily updates. I have been scanning the daily updates of Top Ten for a while and have noticed since starting ETEC 521, that there is a fair amount of news related to indigenous education in Canada. Here are some recent news items that came up with the following search terms:
My favorite part of the Academica site is the work of Ken Steele, Senior Vice-President, Education Marketing. Ken does a roadshow and if you ever have the chance to see one of his presentations on the future trends in post-secondary education, it is well worth the time spent. Ken has U-tube channel where he gathers higher education commercials and lip dubs including UBC’s LipDub. Many of these commercials are thought provoking including Ontario Colleges Obay commercial.
UBC has an Aboriginal Portal that provides information about anything Aboriginal at UBC. The landing page has a welcome video from Larry Grant, Musqueam Elder, Resident Elder at UBC First Nations House of learning and Adjunct Professor in the First Nations Language program. Of particular interest to module three, are the research pages. This includes current faculty, student and community research projects. The site also has access to the Xwi7xwa Library; the only dedicated Aboriginal branch of a university library in Canada.
FNESC.ca is the website for the First Nations Educational Steering Committee. This committee is an independent society created with the goal of improving First Nations education in British Columbia (learners in the public system and in First Nation schools). This site looks to address all aspects of education relating to First Nation learners (i.e. post-secondary, Special Education, community programs, work experience, scholarships and bursaries, etc.). From this site links are provided to other Aboriginal based education sites as well as non-Aboriginal education sites. This site provides a rich resource to First Nations students and schools alike.
I still have not defined my research interest so I am posting this item of interest that I came across the other day as it relates to indigenous education. The federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and the Government of Saskatchewan have formed a task force on education and employment. The task force will try to identify ways to eliminate gaps in education and employment outcomes for Saskatchewan First Nation and Metis people over a one year period starting this fall.
This resource serves as a teacher resource for teaching students, creating lessons, and resources that are inclusive for all students. Although a resource created for Alberta teachers, there are many aspects of the resource that are relevant for all educators. For example, a history of Canadian Aboriginal culture is included in which definitions of cultural terms are included. In addition, explanations of treaties are included as well as a timeline of historical events dating from 1605-2007. Also, sections on spirituality, cultural traditions, and modern day viewpoints on schooling are included so that educators have a resource to scaffold today’s students.