Youth from Treaty 4, Sask. work together to revitalize Indigenous languages

Leaders, Indigenous language speakers and elders from the FHQTC gathered to support youth from File Hills who planted trees as a symbol of growing and reclaiming their languages. Photo courtesy: FHQTC

Youth from 11 nations within the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council (FHQTC) are working together to find ways to save their Indigenous languages.

On Wednesday, a tree planting ceremony was held in Fort Qu’Appelle with the Lands, Resources, Environment & Stewardship (LRES) Youth Advisory Council, FHQTC leadership and other dignitaries.

This ceremony was part of the FHQTC Languages in Our Land Week where participants learned ways to revitalize their Indigenous languages and to ensure they flourish for future generations.

“Within our 11 nations we have our five distinct languages under the tribal council and the whole purpose of planting these trees today is to recognize those languages,” said Montana Blacksioux, LRES Youth Advisory Council member.

“That’s the whole part of coming together is the desire to reclaim that culture that that we we’ve lost.”

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Blacksioux, 21, from the Piapot First Nation wants to expand on her Cree language vocabulary with the hope of speaking it fluently.

“We all wanted to learn our language … because we know that that part of our language, it belongs to us, and it’s a part of our culture and our identity,” she said.

The FHQTC Tribal Chief Jeremy Fourhorns said this initiative led by the youth is very significant to respect and listen to what the youth are suggesting.

“We’ve never done things like this before (with) that level of inclusion,” he said. “So it’s really, really great to see that.”

Chief Fourhorns said the youth will be looking after the trees going forward and in the summertime, they will go to Cyprus Hills where language speakers will teach them about the history of Indigenous languages.

“All of our communities have very close ties to that area,” he said. “But it’s important to go back there … that’s someplace that we utilize on a regular basis.

FHQTC said they will continue to work with the leaders, youth and elders within their 11 nations on finding ways to reclaim their Indigenous languages.

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