Pablo Rodriguez, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, arrived in Saskatoon Tuesday to announce funding for Indigenous language instruction, as well as language and culture camps.
The minister said $11.2 million will help fund Indigenous organizations around Saskatchewan.
“Teaching the language and maintaining the language is one thing – we need more music in your own languages, we need more television, we need more movies in your own languages. But first we have to transmit those languages,” said Rodriguez.
He added that this is a first step, and that there will be other investments down the road based on current discussions.
Joan Okemow, a Saskatoon resident who was at the announcement, said the support for Indigenous language means a lot to her.
“A lot of our children have lost their language, their culture, and it’s up to us to bring this back … to our people. And to have that kind of funding would … help bring our communities together,” she said.
Okemow added that education is important for not just Indigenous people, but for everyone around us.
James Woods, treasurer for the Saskatoon Indian and Metis Friendship Centre Board, said this funding is a welcome surprise.
“We’re hoping to utilize some of the funding to access in our centre here. We want to create more opportunity for our youth, for adults that didn’t get to grow up with language and culture in their lives, and we’re hoping to run more programming here,” said Woods.