Can First Nations languages be saved?
A major symposium takes place in Penticton and Kelowna this weekend to discuss the issue and develop strategies to protect indigenous languages.
All of B.C.'s 34 living First Nations languages are critically endangered and many face the loss of the last generation of fluent speakers within the next decade.
“The alarming lack of traction in protecting these languages has pushed communities and institutions to innovate and critically examine the situations they face,” said Jeannette Armstrong, assistant professor of indigenous studies at UBC Okanagan. Armstrong is also the Canada research chair in indigenous philosophy. “Time is literally running out on living languages across the province.”
The Indigenous Language Fluency Symposium, takes place at the En’owkin Centre in Penticton and UBC Okanagan in Kelowna Feb. 17 to 19. It will open with a welcoming feast hosted by the En’owkin Centre, with a keynote presentation and four symposium sessions at the UBC campus.
“This provides an opportunity for people to share, learn, and co-create a common body of knowledge, from which we can develop strategies for a collaborative, cross-institutional indigenous language fluency degree,” said Patricia Shaw, professor of linguistic anthropology at UBC Vancouver.
The meeting has been organized by a consortium of post-secondary institutions and First Nations organizations.