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LISTEN: Language programs ‘popping up like gophers on the prairie’ will mean success

Alberta Education Minister David Eggen

“We know that culture resides in language most strongly and most importantly, and we believe that taking an interest and speaking First Nation languages is a great way back to the road to stability and good, active culture.”

By Windspeaker.com Staff
With files from Jeremy Harpe of CFWE-FM

Alberta Education Minister David Eggen says he’s never seen a downside to investing in language.

He’s hoping people with an interest in preserving conversational Cree and Blackfoot, and teaching those languages in Alberta schools, will reach out to the Canadian Indigenous Language Development Institute to take advantage of grant monies his ministry has provided.

The goal is to increase the number of Indigenous language instructors in Alberta and to build their capacity to preserve, revitalize and strengthen language learning in communities across the province.

Beyond that, the minister says it is to have Indigenous students see themselves in the curriculum throughout their school careers by hearing their home languages, attending school, graduating and being successful

“We know that culture resides in language most strongly and most importantly, and we believe that taking an interest and speaking First Nation languages is a great way back to the road to stability and good, active culture.”

The grant to the CILDI is $665,000. It’s a modest amount compared to the $37 million the province is investing in curriculum development.

Alberta acknowledges that many fluent speakers are Elders, older women and retired peoples who may have an aversion to the school system in general.

 “We are being very flexible around getting fluent speakers into classrooms,” he told Jeremy Harpe of CFWE-FM.

To earn an Indigenous language certificate, instructors are required to complete 18 credits.

And Eggen acknowledges there are naysayers about the value of investing in Indigenous language preservation.

“A lot of people say ‘oh well, nobody speaks conversational First Nations languages any more’, but that’s not true. You can actually bring back languages too, by creating interest and investing money and resources.”

How will the minister know if his grant investment will reap rewards?

“I will be measuring based on how many programs I can see popping up just like gophers on the prairie, you know. Should be good.”

He said language is the key to culture, and it’s a key for respect and confidence for students too.

 

 

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