Millions in federal cash will help languages in the North say leaders

Chiefs in the Northwest Territories say the cash from the federal government will help preserve their languages in the coming years.

Organizations like the Yellowknives Dene First Nation now say they have more money to put into the work necessary to strengthen the Wiiliideh language.

“Our vision is to have every school talking in our language starting from kindergarten all the way to graduation,” Edward Sangris, chief of Dettah – Yellowknives Dene First Nation told APTN News. 

“And it is so important because as of today we don’t have many speakers in our languages so we are having a hard time with our Elders who don’t speak good English.

On Nov. 25, Liberal MP Michael McLeod, on behalf of the minister of Canadian Heritage, announced $39.4 million over years to help strengthen Indigenous languages in Yukon, Nunavut and the N.W.T.

The money is part of the more than $77 million the federal government has spent on languages in the north since 2019.

“There are 55 projects being added and the money being distributed is there’s $6.9 million for N.W.T., $17.7 million for Nunavut and $14.7 million in Yukon,” said McLeod.

The money will go towards language and cultural camps, translation mentorships and apprenticeship programs.

“This funding will help us continue and to reach out to the speakers in the community where we can utilize the elders and continue having workshops, cultural camps, mini-camps so we can bring back our language,” said Chief Fred Sangris of N’Dilo, Yellowknives Dene First Nation.

The money will also help support the four Inuit land claim organizations in developing and implementing their own language strategies.

The federal government has pledged $840 million over seven years that started in budget 2019. In that year it also passed the Indigenous Languages Act .

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