Strengthening Indigenous languages in Alberta schools

Alberta Education Minister David Eggen is joined by Indigenous elders and language speakers from across the province at Tsuut'ina Nation to announce new funding to support Indigenous languages in schools.

(November 15, 2018) – The Alberta government is investing in a new program that will bring Indigenous language education into classrooms across the province.

The first of its kind in Canada, the Indigenous Languages in Education grant program invests $6 million to increase Indigenous language teacher capacity and expand resource development for early childhood education, as well as kindergarten to Grade 12 Indigenous languages.

“Education plays a pivotal role in revitalizing Indigenous languages,” stated Minister of Education, David Eggen. “It is important that teachers have the knowledge and training to teach Indigenous languages in the classroom and that classroom resources are locally developed to help improve Indigenous language revitalization among students.”

The grant program will provide funding through two streams. The instructor development stream will provide $4 million in funding over two years to First Nations colleges and universities and Indigenous organizations that have a primary mandate to train early childhood education and kindergarten to Grade 12 language instructors in Indigenous languages.

The resource development stream will provide $2 million over two years to organizations that have expertise in developing Indigenous language resources. This will include First Nations and Métis communities, Indigenous organizations and provincial school jurisdictions and postsecondary institutions that partner with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and organizations.

Indigenous language speakers are welcoming the program.

“We want the Anishinabe language to be awakened,” stated Doreen Daychief, Anishinabe.

“Our Blackfoot language helps us understand our Blackfoot way of life,” explained Pat Twigg, Blackfoot.

“We shall complete a great deal of tasks now with the other Indigenous languages from across the Treaty 6, 7 and 8 territories, including our relatives, the Métis,” noted Mary Cardinal-Collins, nêhiyaw/Cree. “I thank the Creator, once again, and it will be great to help one another.”

“Let’s use our language again,” declared Charlene Boucher, Dene, “it makes us distinct; do not forget it. Always use your language; be proud of it.”

 “We want to take our language back,” noted Lyndon Aginas, Nakota.

“Language is a part of us, it is our identity – it’s who we are,” stated Les Skinner, Michif.

“Our languages are holy; Creator sent it down from above,” remarked Bruce Starlight, Tsuut’ina.  “I am happy that there are funds available. Without financial assistance, our language will be gone forever. We are able to record and publish our languages in book form. There is finally some assistance.”

Program eligibility

  • Instructor development stream (up to $570,000 per project over two years).
    • First Nations colleges and other Indigenous organizations with a primary mandate to train kindergarten to Grade 12 language instructors in Indigenous languages.
  • Resource development stream (up to $100,000 per project over two years).
    • Organizations that have expertise in developing Indigenous language resources, including First Nation and Métis communities and organizations and provincial school jurisdictions.
  • The deadline is Dec. 18, 2018.

Application information is available on the Alberta Education website.

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