Autumn Cooper of the Stz’uminus First Nation has become fluent in her dying native language in just a year, thanks to support from the First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC), which is receiving $34.75 million for cultural reclamation and revitalization.
At the legislature Tuesday (June 14), Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister Murray Rankin announced $25 million for the council over three years to support community-based grants in art, heritage, language revitalization training and technology. Another $7.5 million will go to the FPCC directly for this fiscal year.
Additionally, $2.6 million from advanced education and schools training will fund a two-year partnership with the FPCC’s Youth Empowered Speakers (YES) program. YES supports First Nations students such as Cooper studying education and early childhood learning by giving them one-on-one mentorships, mentor-apprentice language training and paid internships.
“I’m not in this journey alone,” she said. “It’s a very tricky journey and we’re all in it together.”
Rankin said he is proud to be part of a government that recognizes the significant value of First Nations languages, arts, culture and heritage.
“Revitalization efforts are crucial in protecting these languages and these cultures. Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples will not be accomplished without that.”
Language, arts and heritage are vital for connecting people to their communities, land and culture across generations, he added.
“Language plays a crucial role in our daily lives, not only as a tool for communication, education and social development, but also as a reservoir for our unique identities, artistic expression, cultural history, traditions and memory across the planet.”
Council CEO Tracey Herbert said this partnership will “change the course of history,” adding, “we would not have a road map for the future without our knowledge keepers.”
Lorna Wanosts’a7 Williams, chair of the First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation, was also on hand for the announcement.
“We know that sustainable long-term investments into Indigenous cultural revitalization will yield many benefits in terms of economic development, self-determination and self-governance, health and wellness,” she said.
Indigenous knowledge is vital to all British Columbians and the funding shows Canada and the world that Indigenous peoples will continue to lead revitalization efforts and ensure their language, art, culture and heritage flourish, Williams added.
– with files from Jane Skrypnek
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