Browse the Frequently Asked Questions below to address any questions you may have about the Supporting Indigenous Language Revitalization initiative and/or getting involved. Please contact us if you have a question that isn’t addressed.
In this community-led, participatory, five-year project, the University of Alberta will provide strategic support to Indigenous Nations and/or communities for substantially enhancing their capacity to successfully carry out their own language revitalization efforts through the coming generations. Underpinning this project is an explicit recognition that Indigenous communities have sovereignty over their language preservation and revitalization goals, programs, and data.
Indigenous languages are healthy and vibrant, and are spoken in homes, schools, workplaces, and on the land.
The objectives include:
- Speaking (Increasing the vitality of Indigenous languages among new young adult learners);
- Teaching (Increasing the number of teachers (formal and informal) capable of weaving Indigenous pedagogies into their Indigenous language teaching practice);
- Knowledge (co-development of high quality and relevant tools and materials for Indigenous language teachers and learners);
- Leadership (Increasing the number of school leaders with relevant skills and accreditation to support Indigenous languages in the education system); and
- Governance & Advocacy (Building the appropriate structure across all project initiatives to ensure successful outcomes).
In Canada, there are many different ‘Indigenous communities’—including First Nation communities that signed treaties and have defined territories of land, unceded First Nation communities that have traditional territory but that have not signed treaties, Métis communities that are land based, communities that share a common culture and language but do not ‘reside’ in a particular place (for example the Métis Nation of Alberta), organizations that are multi-Indigenous collaborative, and the Indigenous community at the University of Alberta that includes faculty, staff, and students who engage with the University as members of their Nations and bring the voice of their respective communities. Due to this complexity, understanding and honouring what ‘community’ means for each partner will be the first key step in ensuring the effective engagement and participation for the co-development of different project initiatives.
The project uses the term ‘capacity’ at the community level, understanding that capacity building is vital to a community’s ability to implement change effectively. “Capability” refers to the individual level and includes the pathways to build the skills and accreditations needed for Indigenous stakeholders to enhance the capacity of their communities.
Indigenous languages are an irreplaceable component of unique cultures, traditions, and worldviews that have developed over millennia—they are an integral part of Indigenous Peoples’ identity and a key aspect of self-determination. Language is the fundamental way Indigenous Peoples’ share their knowledge, communicate their understanding of the world, and connect with their spirituality. As such, language has been shown to play a critical role in Indigenous Peoples’ well-being—including their mental health and their sense of community belonging.
Indigenous Peoples’ across Canada were systematically dispossessed of their languages through the Indian Residential School System. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released its final report detailing the history and ongoing legacy of the Indian Residential School System. This report included 94 Calls to Action, with five of them addressing the importance of Indigenous languages as “fundamental and valued elements of Canadian culture and society” and stressing the urgency to preserve them.
The initiative is two phases which takes place across five years:
Phase I (years 1-2): Phase I will focus on building relationships with Indigenous educational institutions, grassroot organization, and community partners to engage in the co-design of programs and activities that are responsive to community needs and vision. Phase I will also include the development and implementation of those project initiatives that are held on-campus.
Phase II (years 3–5): Phase II will focus on the full implementation of the community-based, participatory activities, as well the continuing growth of the project initiatives that are held on-campus. Feedback loops will be included in all project initiatives, with participants’ perception being gathered through surveys and other mechanisms. Most importantly, the evaluation tools and metrics will be co-developed with the different project stakeholders, ensuring each community develops the capacity to self-evaluate and identify their own indicators of success.
This initiative is supported by the BHP Foundation as well as in-kind support from the University of Alberta. Funding will support the expansion and enhancement of current initiatives and the development of new pathways to remove barriers preventing access to education opportunities—accelerating capacity building in Indigenous Nations and/or communities to lead their language revitalization efforts.
This initiative is being governed and administered by the University of Alberta Office of the Vice-Provost, Indigenous Programming & Research—the mission of this Office is to support the development and implementation of programs, services and initiatives related to Indigenous engagement and transformative practices that respect and honour Indigenous knowledges across the University of Alberta.
The Project Steering Committee is responsible for ensuring the project is on track as per project design, financial allocations are being made and spent to schedule, project learnings and changes from initial assumptions are reported and tracked, identified challenges have been addressed, and plans next key steps.
The Advisory Council members are invited to participate to ensure that community voice and guidance is present, and that the overall project remains in alignment with community needs.