The Foundation delivers funding that promotes the vitality of Indigenous languages, arts and cultural heritage. Funding is administered by trusted partners such as the First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC). Communities are the experts on their own programming, and the flexible funding we provide allows communities to define and meet their needs in ways that work for them.
The language programs we fund support speakers, Knowledge Keepers and communities and create new speakers of B.C. First Nations languages. They are based on research and best practices from around the world about programs that are effective at increasing language fluency.
All the programs we fund support the vitality of Indigenous languages, arts and cultural heritage, with an aim to rebuild cultural systems impacted by colonization and support Indigenous self-determination.
“The FPCC Mentor-Apprentice Program is the most forward-thinking program in Canada because it understands the needs of our community.”Tracey Kim Bonneau
Mentor-Apprentice Program Apprentice, Syilx Nation in Penticton
Indigenous Cultural Heritage Programs
The Foundation is dedicated to assisting First Nations to rebuild and restore the cultural systems that have sustained them for generations by providing funding for programs and training to build capacity in their communities. The Foundation has a close relationship with the First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC), and the two organizations are aligned in a shared goal of supporting the vitality of First Nations’ cultural heritage.
Objectives for Cultural Heritage Programs often include:
Increase community capacity to support Indigenous cultural heritage through grants for best practices, capacity building, mentorships and cultural infrastructure development; develop training programs and tools; and advocacy efforts.
Conduct research to develop a strategy for the revitalization and maintenance of all forms of B.C. Indigenous heritage.
Invest in and develop a strong network of experts on the revitalization of Indigenous heritage and cultural knowledge.
“As Indigenous Peoples, cultural heritage shapes our existence, identities, expression, and our ways of living and we pass the knowledge on from generation to generation. It is critical for our health and well-being, but continues to be threatened.”John Haugen
First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation, Vice-Chair
Mentor-Apprentice Program (MAP)
This program supports one-on-one learning between an adult language learner and a fluent speaker. The program funds 300 hours of immersion per mentor-apprentice pair over the course of a year, as well as training and support to set participants up for success.
MAP contributes to re-establishing natural language learning patterns, where language is passed down from one generation to the next. The program provides learners opportunities to use their languages with fluent speakers, usually Elders, both at home and on the land. This encourages organic language use in communities and leads to increases in language acquisition, intergenerational relationships and well-being. MAP has a proven high success rate in increasing fluency, with over 95% of participants identifying that the program increased their fluency. Beyond impacts in language learning, MAP creates new opportunities for apprentices, who often go on to fill roles as language champions and teachers in their communities.
“I am now a holder of the language as a speaker. Language is at the core of who we are, our history and our laws. As Indigenous people, it sets the parameters for how we live and take care of ourselves.”Tracey Kim Bonneau
Mentor-Apprentice Program Apprentice, Syilx Nation in Penticton
Reclaiming My Language Program
Many Indigenous people know or understand their language but are not able to speak it, often as a result of institutional abuse (for example, in residential schools). The Reclaiming My Language Program supports participants to reclaim their language and become speakers, usually in a much shorter time than it takes to create new speakers who don’t already understand their language. The course is based on a successful program that was developed in Norway and Sweden for and by Indigenous Sami people. The model uses cognitive behavioural therapy combined with a supportive mentor to help silent speakers overcome barriers to using their Indigenous language.
Many program graduates go on to do language work in their communities and with their families and can contribute invaluably to language revitalization efforts. The program also leads to increased confidence, pride and cultural connections, which support overall well-being for the participants.
“I feel so much stronger as a Native person. Strength in knowledge. I felt ashamed of my level and shame to speak in a non-Native setting. This course has built up my courage to speak in any setting and be proud to be a strong Native woman. Passing this on to my grandbabies.”Reclaiming My Language Pilot Project Participant
Pathways to Language Vitality
This grant stream provides open-ended funding to projects that increase speakers of B.C. First Nations languages, allowing communities the flexibility to create and implement innovative language programming that works for them.
Each of the 204 First Nations communities in the province is unique, and in contrast to funder-driven programs, this community-driven program offers participants the chance to develop their own approaches that are informed directly by community needs. A wide range of programs are funded, including, but not limited to, language and culture games and camps, digital language lessons, afterschool programming for Indigenous youth, supports for parents of children in immersion and programs around language and wellness. This grant stream also includes funding for language nests for preschool-aged children and language gatherings that bring together communities to share ideas and collaborate.
Language Nest Program
The Language Nest Program creates new language speakers through cultural immersion environments for young children and their parents. Language nest grants allow communities to create home-like learning environments where young children can naturally learn their language as a mother tongue. Children are immersed in the language, and parents are encouraged to participate, while staff, volunteers and Elders carry out daily activities in the language with the children.
Language nests create opportunities for parents to revitalize a language by learning it themselves and incorporating it into their daily lives. Language nests are a proven effective method for Indigenous language acquisition as they promote language learning for both children and adults in the community and strengthen intergenerational relationships and teaching.
Language Revitalization Planning Program
The Language Revitalization Planning Program supports communities to create multi-year plans for language revitalization that provide opportunities for children, youth and adults to learn and share their language, no matter where they live or at what stage they begin their learning journey. The program provides funds, planning tools and resources, and one-on-one coaching to support communities.
Community-driven language plans allow communities to set a clear vision, coordinate programming and work in a comprehensive, continuous way to create the future they desire for their language – rather than being funded by year-to-year one-time projects. The program puts control of language revitalization in the hands of communities and builds long-term sustainability in an Indigenous-led way.
Language Technology Program
FirstVoices grants provide communities with specialized training, tools and funding to document their language using FirstVoices software. FirstVoices is an internationally recognized online Indigenous language resource that allows communities to document their language for future generations. Users can upload dictionaries, alphabets, songs, stories, words and phrases, as well as audio and video content to their community archives.
Digitization grants provide funding and training to convert language resources in old or inaccessible formats, such as audio cassette or VHS tapes, to digital formats so they can be preserved for future generations and more easily used by learners and teachers today.
Many language and culture recordings that communities keep are precious to communities and families and contain irreplaceable knowledge and connections to the past, present and future. These materials are immensely valuable to learners, teachers and all community members in their culture and language journeys. The Language Technology Program helps to keep language documentation and resources accessible to the people who need them, wherever they live, for use today and into the future.