First Nations Languages

The BCAFN is involved in national level languages work through the AFN Chiefs Committee on Languages (CCOL) and its technical committee. Regionally, BCAFN is committed to supporting the implementation of languages related commitments within the Declaration Act Action Plan.

AFN Chiefs Committee on Languages

In July 2023 at the AFN AGA, First-Nations-in-Assembly voted to not pass draft resolution 26 Equitable Funding for Languages Revitalization, which sought ratification for a new regional funding allocation formula for the Department of Canadian Heritage Indigenous Languages Component funding. BC Chiefs expressed concern that the proposed formula would significantly negatively impact the amount of funding for the BC region (as well as several other regions), and that more work was need to arrive at a consensus-based, data-driven formula.
The CCOL and TCOL are continuing to work to advance discussions on this topic and discuss advocacy strategies regarding increases for languages revitalization funding.

The International Decade for Indigenous Languages

The International Decade for Indigenous Languages began in 2022, launching in December. The AFN developed a First Nations Action Plan for the International Decade that sets out a vision; objectives; actions associated with enhancing awareness, increasing engagement, and building community strategies; roles and responsibilities; measurement and indicators; and phases of work.

Federal Advocacy

In October 2022 the AFN made a submission to Parliamentary Committee on Official Languages regarding amending the Official Languages Act. However, the recommendations were not accepted by the Committee. The Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages affirmed the importance of recognizing First Nation, Métis and Inuit languages as the first languages of the land, and noted the barriers that currently exist for Indigenous languages revitalization.

In early 2023 the Band Reparations Class Action settlement agreement related to loss of
language and culture at residential schools was reached and approved by the federal court.

The Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAN) conducted an Indigenous Languages Study to analyze the success of the government compared to the objectives set out in the Indigenous Languages Act. The AFN made a submission highlighting recommendations regarding funding levels, First Nations control over allocation of funds, and the need for a whole-of-government approach. The Committee presented its report to the House of Commons on June 16, 2023 and has requested a government response.

Language Revitalization in BC

In February 2023 FPCC released the fourth report on the status of B.C. First Nations languages. The report demonstrates a more than 20% increase in learners as well as growth in semi-speakers and language learning opportunities.

Resources and Funding

In June 2023 the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages launched their website.

The Department of Canadian Heritage (DCH) is accepting applications for time-limited funding under Sections 8 and 9 of the Indigenous Languages Act. The AFN worked with DCH to develop the application process, while at the same time advocating for enhanced commitments and longer-term funding.

This past year the AFN also released several useful reports:

  • AFN Language Policy Report Research, a comparative report about:
    o federal, provincial and territorial legislation, regulations and policies that concern the revitalization of First Nations languages and other Indigenous languages in Canada, and
    o legislation, regulations and policies that relevant international jurisdictions have put in place for revitalizing Indigenous languages in those places.
  • AFN Revitalization First Nations Languages, A Costing Analysis.