North Island College is expanding its Indigenous language offerings with the development of new certificate, set to launch this fall.
“This new certificate is a response to local Indigenous communities and individuals from those communities who were concerned about the critical state of their languages,” said Sara Child, NIC Aboriginal Education Facilitator and developer of the certificate. “For most communities the only fluent speakers are well into their 70s, there a very few adult speakers. In addition, there is little to no support for language learning for adults or programming that leads to fluency in the language.”
The certificate expands on NIC’s current Indigenous language offerings in Nuu-chah-nulth and Kwak’wala, which also incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing and being along with language teaching. The certificate will support the infusion of culture and draw on local fluent elders and knowledge keepers.
Supporting language learning among adults of our Indigenous communities is key to responding to reconciliation, said Child.
“The restrictions that were implemented during the residential and day school eras of colonization impacted the very heart and soul of our people,” she said. “That legacy caused a ripple effect that was passed down the generations. The values and beliefs encoded in our languages provided the very foundation of all of our relationships; relationships with self, others, our families, communities and the natural world. Those foundations that were rooted in respect, reciprocity, responsibility and reverence of the natural world and were vital to our individual and collective wellness.”
The curriculum is in its final development stage with an expected first offering at the Mixalakwila campus in September 2020.
“When our communities approached NIC it was with the hope and determination that we would develop a unique certificate rooted in the restoration of those vital aspects of our Indigenous knowledge’s and ways of being,” said Child. “We are navigating new ground. I have no doubt that this will be an empowering journey that will change the perspectives of our students and their communities, and transform how we do education.”
Anyone interested in taking the language certificate is encouraged to join an interest list and will be advised when applications are open for the program. Prospective students can join the interest list at www.nic.bc.ca or by contacting NIC Educational Advisor Sandra Mountain at firstname.lastname@example.org.