Today is International Mother Language Day


“It is encouraging to see Indigenous communities who are collaborating and finding different ways to support their language work in all areas of the family and in the community, including schools and community events. The 2022 Report on the Status of B.C. First Nations Languages is a reminder that we must put all our hearts and minds together towards language revitalization. Funding and resources to create opportunities for younger generations to learn their languages help all of us to connect the past, present and future. Together is how we will get there.

Dr. Lorna Wanosts’a7 Williams, Board Chair, First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation

Today, on International Mother Language Day, the First People’s Cultural Council releases its Report on the Status of B.C. First Nations Languages 2022.

Now in its fourth edition, this is the only First Nations-led report of its kind in Canada.

The report provides benchmark data to First Nations communities, leadership and all levels of government to support language revitalization planning, evaluation and advocacy efforts.

It has been published every four years, since 2010.

The 2022 report gathered information from 167 First Nations communities in B.C., reporting on 140,195 First Nations people.

This was challenging in a period in which First Nations in the province faced many difficult circumstances, including the COVID-19 pandemic and record wildfires and flooding, which caused widespread evacuations and disruptions to people’s lives. Despite this, communities have worked hard to continue language revitalization work, developing more learning opportunities than ever before with support from FPCC.

For the first time, the report includes data on all 34 First Nations languages in B.C. According to the 2022 report, there has been an increase in semi-speakers and immersion learning opportunities, as well as more than 3,000 new learners.

Communities have been working very hard, and there are growing numbers of speakers and more new language learners than ever before.

Huge recognition and love to all those who have been giving their energy towards language learning and sharing. You are part of this success, you are contributing to the uplift and momentum that is building. We celebrate your success and your courage and your work towards reclamation and revitalization. Language is culture and culture is the way we will survive capitalism and climate emergencies, so the more ways we can centre life, and the more languages we can speak beautiful things in, the better the future will be.

Some facts from the report:

  • There are 3,370 speakers of First Nations languages, or 2.4% of the population who reported to the First Peoples’ Cultural Council.
  • There are 6,985 semi-speakers, or 4.98% of the population who reported to us. Overall, this is an increase since the last report in 2018.
  • Nearly a quarter (21.3%) of semi-speakers are under the age of 25.
  • With speakers and semi-speakers combined, there are 10,355 speakers of First Nationslanguages in B.C., or 7.39% of the population who reported to us.
  • First Nations language learners make up 12.2% of the total population who reported to us –17,103 learners. This is a 21.4% increase of 3,106 new learners since 2018.
  • Adult Language Learning Is on the Rise with More Adult Language Programs than Ever BeforeThe majority of FPCC’s programs support adult learners. Adult language learning opportunities have significantly increased since our last report, including full-time adult immersion programs.
  • Part-time language programs: 1,634 adults participated in 95 language programs, averaging 5.29 hours of learning per week.
  • Full-time language programs: There were only two full-time immersion programs for adults in 2018, but there are now eight programs offered in seven different languages.
  • There has been an increase of 1,964 adult learners aged 20–64 since 2018.
  • Increased Language Learning Opportunities for ChildrenAn increasing number of adults are passing their language to the next generation, with many more children learning their First Nations language as their first language in the home.
  • There are 2,417 children learning their language in 157 early childhood facilities (including language nests, Head Start programs and other centres).

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action Report and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples both outline the need to protect and invest in the restoration of Indigenous languages as a human right. Additionally, the United Nations has declared 2022–32 the International Decade of Indigenous Languages to raise awareness about language revitalization efforts around the globe.

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