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Alberta resource guides learners towards Indigenous language revitalization

A group from the University of Alberta has released a new guide to help revitalize Indigenous languages.

“Many people are at different levels in their language revitalization journey,” said Pamela McCoy Jones, the executive director for Indigenous programming and research at the University of Alberta.

“Some communities might be developing curriculum, developing teacher resources or doing land-based programming for youth and young adults, but then some are just starting out.”

The loss of Indigenous language is one of many impacts of the Residential School system.

“The goals of colonization was to erase Indigenous languages and replace with English and Christianity but now from revitalization, all those languages are coming alive again,” said Elder Dr. Elmer Ghostkeeper, part of the Indigenous advisory committee for this guide.

Click to play video: 'Canada’s 1st graduates in Indigenous Language Fluency'

Canada’s 1st graduates in Indigenous Language Fluency

Ghostkeeper explained there are an estimated 70 Indigenous languages still spoken but only around 15 per cent of people in Indigenous communities can speak fluently.

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“I don’t think I or my parents really grew up being proud of being indigenous,” said McCoy Jones. “There’s institutional racism, there’s systemic racism.”

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Now with more available programing and cultural celebrations, McCoy Jones said more people want to reconnect with their culture and learn the language and traditions.

Click to play video: 'Protecting and revitalizing Indigenous languages'

Protecting and revitalizing Indigenous languages

The resource can help. It’s both an online and printed tool that can guide teachers and learners towards creating educational programs on the path towards fluency.

“There is so much good work happening in the community and across Canada that this is kind of our starting point and that we’ll continue to build resources that will build on this guide,” said McCoy Jones.

For now, the guide includes a road map to creating curriculums for immersion, bilingual or subject-specific courses from kindergarten into post-secondary.

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