UBCO to offer bachelor's degree in Indigenous language fluency

UBCO keeps language alive

A bachelor’s degree of Indigenous language fluency will be offered at UBC Okanagan this fall, and it will be the first of its kind in Canada.

Students will be able to pursue a bachelor of Nsyilxcn language fluency degree, which UBCO is offering in partnership with Merritt's Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and Penticton’s En’owkin Centre.

The program’s goal is to increase the number of fluent Nsyilxcn speakers “at a time when Indigenous languages in B.C. are critically endangered,” according to a press release from the B.C. government. A driving force behind the initiative is Jeannette Armstrong, who is a UBCO Indigenous studies associate professor and a knowledge keeper of Syilx Okanagan Nation.

“We hope to help foster a revitalization of the Nsyilxcn language in our communities and see it spread across all domains of community life,” Armstrong said in a press release. “This is an important step in acting on Indigenous peoples’ rights to develop and transmit their languages, knowledge and oral traditions.

“UBCO and all of the program partners are at the cutting edge in making this breakthrough that will help advance cultural revitalization and positive change for Indigenous communities.”

Students will earn credits at En'owkin Centre and NVIT that can be transferred into the UBCO degree program. The first two years are spent earning a Nsyilxcn language diploma through NVIT, or they can take a college readiness program option through En'owkin with accreditation from NVIT. Then students can transfer to UBCO for the final two years to earn their bachelor of Nsyilxcn language fluency degree.

The first cohort of students will graduate from NVIT with an Nsyilxcn language diploma this July. UBC Okanagan will then welcome the first incoming class in September.

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