RAPID WORD COLLECTION

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100% of surviving First Nations languages across British Columbia are critically endangered [1], with fears of many of these languages disappearing in years, rather than decades. Given that Indigenous languages carry within them a community’s history, cultural traditions, and spiritual beliefs, and that Indigenous health and well-being is tied to language and culture identity [2], it is imperative that language revitalization activities begin immediately that focus on tools for the intergenerational transmission of knowledge; not word collections only but linked to their use in context, in conversation, and the communities world view while the fluent elders and knowledge keepers are still able to do so.

Indigenous language loss is a direct result of historical colonization and forced assimilation, including the implementation of the Indian Act and the residential school system. This language loss has been heightened by the intergenerational trauma perpetuated by forced colonization and current concerns about the stigmatization of First Nations communities, urbanization and colonial policies that do not prioritize Indigenous language revitalization [2]. Additional factors include inadequate curricula and text corpora available to teach Indigenous languages, community preferences for speaking English, and the dominance of western approaches and English in public schools/online [2]. Colonial Eurocentric approaches to language capture have also been highlighted as systemic ‘basic routines’ that need to be addressed.

 

  1. University of British Columbia. (n.d.). Indigenous Languages Fluency Symposium. https://bit.ly/39OUWsi

Gessner, S., Herbert, T., Parker, A., Thorburn, B., & Wadsworth, A. (2014). Report on the Status of B.C. First Nations Languages 2014. First Peoples’ Cultural Council.