B.C. commits $35M to revitalization of Indigenous culture
The funds will be used to continue the revitalization of the Indigenous languages, arts, and culture.
Autumn Cooper of the Stz'uminus First Nation has become proficient in her dying native tongue in less than a year, owing to funding from the First Peoples' Cultural Council (FPCC), which has been awarded $34.75 million for cultural reclamation and restoration.
Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister Murray Rankin announced $25 million for the council over three years in the legislature on Tuesday (June 14) to fund community-based grants in art, history, language revitalization training, and technology. This fiscal year, an additional $7.5 million will be directed to the FPCC.
In addition, $2.6 million in advanced education and school training will be used to finance a two-year collaboration with the FPCC's Youth Empowered Speakers (YES) program. YES assists First Nations students studying education and early childhood learning, such as Cooper, by providing 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 expressed pride in being a member of a government that respects the importance of First Nations languages, arts, culture, and legacy.
“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.”
Tracey Herbert, CEO of the Council, stated that this collaboration will "change the course of history," adding that "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 present.
“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 stated.
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.