Alberta commits funding to teach Indigenous languages
A one-of-a-kind program through the Alberta government is helping to provide language instruction for First Nations youth.
The Indigenous Languages in Education grant program will help by increasing the number of Indigenous language teachers in First Nations schools and increasing the resource development in early childhood education.
Through it, officials hope to expand instruction for students from kindergarten all the way to Grade 12.
The $6M grant will provide funding in two areas; first, $4M over two years will go to First Nations colleges and universities that have a primary goal of training early childhood educators in Indigenous languages.
The second phase will provide $2M for organizations that have expertise in developing Indigenous language resources.
Wayne Jackson, an Indigenous Languages consultant who speaks English and Cree, says that he's been told for years by First Nations elders that they need help with languages.
"We need money and we need to train our First Nations language speakers to be teachers and we need resources. They've been saying this for years and now Alberta Education is finally listening."
He says that its just a start to address the big issue, but it's a good start.
"Hopefully it continues to roll and roll and we'll have more immersion schools in our nations and even in our urban centres."
Stanley Bigplume, a Tsuut'ina council member, says one of his biggest regrets was not learning a First Nations language at an earlier age.
"I speak Tsuut'ina and Blackfoot but I don't speak it fluently, unfortunately. I am learning it."
His children learned to speak Tsuut'ina right in school and the funding will help the current efforts of the Nation to teach its young people.
"It does go a long way to help enhance those efforts which already have taken place over a long time. The time is now, we have to act now, and the efforts we are putting forward already, this funding will go to enhance that."
Those interested in applying for funding can find more information online. The deadline for applications is December 18.