The First Nations and Endangered Languages Program (FNEL) is part of UBC’s commitment to community-based collaboration with First Nations and other Indigenous peoples, in recognition of the vital importance of their languages and of the cultural traditions they represent. British Columbia has an extraordinarily rich linguistic heritage, being the ancestral home of more than half of the Aboriginal languages of Canada. 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.
Through a partnership with the Musqueam Indian Band, FNEL offers university-level classes in the traditional language and cultural heritage of the Musqueam people, on whose ancestral and unceded territory UBC is situated. These classes are held at the Musqueam Community Centre, and are taught in collaboration with members of the Musqueam community.
The program also offers courses in other First Nations and Indigenous languages, as well as courses in methodologies and technologies for endangered language documentation, conservation, and revitalization.
FNEL courses are broadly interdisciplinary in approach and hence are of relevance to students in a diversity of humanities and social sciences programs who are interested in the complex spectrum of human language diversity, and in the dynamics of change, loss, sustainability, and revitalization.