First Nations and Endangered Languages (FNEL) is a program housed within the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies (CIS). Learn more about CIS here.

First Nations and Endangered Languages (FNEL) offers courses in First Nations languages, as well as methodology classes on language documentation, conservation and revitalization. In partnership and collaboration with First Nations and Indigenous communities and their cultural institutions, staff, scholars and students in our program conduct research with speakers of endangered languages and help to develop educational materials in British Columbia and beyond.

Partnership with Musqueam

The First Nations and Endangered Languages Program (formerly known as the First Nations Languages Program) was initiated in 1996 as part of UBC’s commitment to community-based collaboration with First Nations peoples, in recognition of the profound importance of First Nations languages and the rich cultural traditions they represent.

To learn about our partnership with Musqueam that was created in 1997 to promote the development and use of hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ through collaborative research initiatives, click here.

The Unique Linguistic Heritage of BC

Being the ancestral home of more than half of the Aboriginal languages of Canada, British Columbia has an extraordinarily rich linguistic heritage. Unique to this territory, these languages are globally renowned for their diversity and complexity. The reality is that all of the 34 surviving First Nations languages of BC are critically endangered. The loss of any one of these languages, which have flourished for millennia being passed from generation to generation as rich and vibrant oral traditions, constitutes an irreplaceable loss of a living expression of intellect, of specific cultural understanding, of a vital link to the past, and potential keys to our collective well-being, health, and sustainability.

Our Core Values

Our goal is to build a community of people dedicated to learning, speaking, researching, and teaching their languages:

  • Our work, both individual and collective, is rooted in a context of relationships and responsibilities.
  • Our individual learning experiences strengthen our own understanding of ourselves (whether Indigenous or not), and how we relate to families, communities, histories, and places.
  • Our collective shared experiences strengthen not only our individual selves, but also our communities – our families, our social networks, our political institutions, our educational systems, our society.
  • Our responsibilities to the healthy future of the language extend beyond our own learning goals and achievements.
  • The structural strength and integrity of the language, like the structural strength and integrity of our physical institutions, depend on the collective and collaborative support of many individual components.

Our Program

FNEL provides transformative learning environments that value and model ethical community engagement and collaborative partnerships. We equip students to apply the skills they develop through our courses in language documentation, conservation, reclamation and revitalization in relevant and sustainable ways.

We regularly offer hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ (Musqueam Salish) at introductory and intermediate levels, and generations of FNEL students have benefitted from learning various other First Nations languages, including Cree (Plains Algonquin), Kwak̓wala (Northern Wakashan), Nɬe’kepmxcin
(Northern Interior Salish), Dakelh Dene (Carrier Athapaskan), Dene Zāge’ (Kaska Athabaskan) and Nuu-chah-nulth (Southern Wakashan). We are always exploring new language opportunities and partnerships.

Our students can customize their program with an array of interdisciplinary experiences, including personalized directed studies courses, community collaborations, electives and travel abroad.

About Our Logo

The First Nations and Endangered Languages Program would like to thank artist Ross Hunt for kindly providing the design of our program logo, which is an illuminating image of the sun. Ross was a former student in our program.

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