SICC First Nations Language Strategy
The SICC has been undertaking substantial updating of its Language Strategy and conducting extensive consultations on the Strategy with key stakeholders such as First Nations Elders and youth. The SICC released its first Language Strategy in 2006 and it has provided an essential basis for First Nations language advancement and promotion. Further expansion and change is necessary for the Language Strategy to continue to meet the mandate of the SICC.
The Strategy has been developed recognizing that languages are in crisis and that urgent action is required to address the loss of language in our families, homes and communities. It is acknowledged that resources will be required to ensure the implementation of the Strategy. Due to limited resources, priorities will have to be established to maximize the impacts on language loss over time. The vast majority of young children under the age of five are unable to speak or understand a First Nations language. The loss of our languages means a weakening of First Nations cultural values, traditions, worldviews, family relationships and relationships to the environment and the land. First Nations are at a critical place in terms of language and cultural retention. The oldest speakers retain the “high” level of the First Nations language.
The long term goals of the Strategy include:
- To re-establish the First Nations languages as the mother tongue for First Nations people in Saskatchewan;
- To recognize First Nations languages as the official languages of First Nations governments;
- To increase the number of First Nations language speakers;
- To expand the domains in which First Nations languages are spoken;
- To increase the rate of intergenerational language retention and transmission;
- To provide a resource base for First Nations and school systems;
- To promote and support the Inherent sovereignty of First Nations;
- To advocate the preservation of First Nations languages, cultures, traditional arts and history;
- To advocate for First Nations control and management of First Nations cultural resources; and,
- To reflect kinship, family and parenting roles in the transmission of language.
The principles of the Strategy include:
- First Nations languages are essential for identity;
- There is an Inherent right of First Nations people to learn their languages;
- First Nations languages are tied to First Nations culture, relationships, and worldview;
- First Nations languages enhance Indigenous Knowledge;
- First Nations languages are the means to communicate oral traditions and histories;
- First Nations languages connect the individual to kinship, community and their lands; and,
- First Nations languages should be respected in the oral and written forms.