According to UNESCO, 88 of Canada’s 90 Indigenous languages are on the verge of extinction.
In B.C., Indigenous communities are experiencing this on a much greater scale. There are more than 34 First Nation languages, representing more than half of all in Canada, and all are facing a threat to their vitality.
With Day of Truth and Reconciliation quickly approaching, Vancouver-based organization Simbi Foundation is increasing their efforts to help revitalize Indigenous languages in B.C.
Together with First Nation communities in BC, Simbi Foundation is helping to create digital spaces and supply education technology to support students and teachers grow and revive their ancestral languages in new, immersive ways.
Simbi Foundation is dedicated to providing support for under-served and refugee communities facing challenges to accessing quality education and is addressing this issue by creating, digitizing, and making available children’s books in local Indigenous languages, including the languages of the Sxwoyehà:là, Sq’ewqeyl, Ch’iyàqtel, Sto:lo and Xwchíyò:m communities.
These books have been written and narrated by language speakers, elders, teachers, and community members and form a digital read-along Halq’eméylem library hosted on the Simbi platform.
The majority of the books are bilingual and at beginner level, with a goal to support community youth to build familiarity with key Halq’eméylem vocabulary and expressions.
Earlier this year, Simbi Foundation received a $20,000 grant from the TELUS Vancouver and Coastal Community Board. The funding directly support the creation of more books as well as development of updated technology to allow for barrier-free access to learning of these languages.