Evidence of meeting #46 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was funding.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Blaire Gould  Executive Director, Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey
Gerry Guillet  Director of Education, Athabasca Denesuline Education Authority
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Vanessa Davies
Leroy Denny  Eskasoni Band Council, Eskasoni First Nation
Alexina Kublu  Inuktitut Language Instructor, As an Individual
Chief Ron Tremblay  Wolastoqey Language Developer and Teacher, Wolastoq Grand Council

December 12th, 2022 / 11:05 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Marc Garneau

Welcome to meeting number 46 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

We acknowledge that we are meeting on the unceded territory of the Algonquin and Anishinabe people.

Today we are beginning our study on indigenous languages.

We are pleased to welcome Blaire Gould, who is the executive director of Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey, as well as Gerry Guillet, who is here in person, who is the director of education at the Athabasca Denesuline Education Authority. Welcome to both of you.

Just before we get going, I'll make the usual introductory comments.

Please wait until I recognize you by name before speaking. For those participating by video conference, click on the microphone icon to activate your mike, and please mute yourself when you are not speaking.

For interpretation, those using Zoom can choose floor audio, English or French using the little globe icon at the bottom of the screen. Those in the room can use the headset and select their preferred channel. When questions are asked in Inuktitut, choose the interpretation language of your choice.

I will remind you that all comments should be addressed through the chair. For members in the room, if you wish to speak, please raise your hand. For members on Zoom, please use the “raise hand” function. The clerk and I will manage the speaking order as well as we can.

Each witness will have five minutes for opening remarks. We will start with Ms. Blaire Gould.

Ms. Gould, if you are ready, the floor is yours for the next five minutes.

11:05 a.m.

Blaire Gould Executive Director, Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey

Thank you.

[Witness spoke in Mi’kmaq and provided the following text:]

Wela'lioq, ta'n tel pekitimioq.

[Witness provided the following translation:]

Thank you for inviting me here today.


I had certainly hoped to be there in person, but maybe next time.

Mi'kmaq language has been on a decline over the last number of decades.

In comparative studies done in 1999 and 2013 by Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey, language data in age populations found that generally the population aged 40 and above are not in an immediate threat to their understanding and speaking of Mi'kmaq; however, those 30 and under were faced with a sudden decrease in the population of speakers, but generally had a good range of people who understood Mi'kmaq. They were not able to speak it but were able to understand. Those under the age of 20—from zero to 20—were dangerously low in both the population of speakers and those who understood Mi'kmaq. We projected some linear and exponential data bringing us to 13 years later from 2013, and we predict certainly a bigger decline in those populations of speakers.

We try to project our data and our discussion with community around the realities of this data and where we sit today from where we sat in 2013. I indicated to communities that if nothing changes, this is the predicted decline, and much of it is critical. A lot of it, especially for those zero to 12, is “sleeping”, meaning that there are no active speakers in those age populations.

Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey, along with communities, implemented quick measures and put them into place, such as teacher development, language planning curriculum and program development, and continue to do so year over year.

Standing here—virtually, of course—is something that I have done in the past as I speak to the benefit of the Indigenous Languages Act. Along with Chief Denny, I helped shape what the act looks like. We were able to receive feedback from our nation and heard engagement from across the nation of Canada, which we bring here today. We sit in favour of the act. We sit in favour of more sustainable funding to implement the measures required to sustain and revitalize languages.

Of course, speaking as a resident of the Atlantic region, and more specifically Nova Scotia, what has this act done for us? It's been a little time since 2019, when the act was passed. We have had our common share of struggles in the last couple of years. It certainly has not deterred us from the work we're doing. Very plainly, what has this done for us? I can explain what we feel: that the Indigenous Languages Act helped us advance here in Nova Scotia as a Mi'kmaq nation. We have benefited from the act. There are sections within the act that prompt provinces and territories to do work to help nations revitalize and reclaim their languages.

I'm very proud to stand here today and let you know that we co-developed legislation called the “Mi'kmaw Language Act”—“An Act to Recognize, Promote and Support the Revitalization and Reclamation of the Mi'kmaw Language”—here in Nova Scotia. We co-developed this last year and submitted it to the bill system in February 2022. In April, we saw the first, second and third readings unanimously pass through the government. As you know, we have a really unique government system.

Currently in Nova Scotia, we have a Conservative leadership, but we really collectively work with all members of government. We recognize our past work with the Liberal government and how we started the advancement of this work and concluded it with the Conservative government, as well as the NDP government. It was quite unique in that it received unanimous support in April 2022.

We're self-determined in our nation and recognize that we have our own functions of laws and our own processes for laws to be passed, so we certainly respect the way Nova Scotia planned to uphold and proclaim their law. We did so in a joint way in July 2022. The law itself came into effect on October 1. It's a significant day for the Mi'kmaq, being Mi'kmaq Treaty Day here in Nova Scotia.

What does this act aim to do for us, and what supports does it give us? For us, being very distinct here in Nova Scotia, we are just one nation. There is only the Mi'kmaq nation here, so we have one language here in Nova Scotia, which is Mi'kmaq. The act recognizes Mi'kmaq as the original language of this land, among other things. Very plainly, it aims to develop a strategy and an action plan to revitalize the language. We have gotten to work, and it's still very fresh, but we're looking forward to the future there.

Aside from that, there is a financial benefit of the act. Currently, through the act, Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey is a third party manager to the indigenous languages component. We are currently not in any section 8 or 9 deals with the federal government, but we are exploring some options there. We do manage this small pot of money for the indigenous languages component. This allows us to really make the decisions as a collective to fund projects.

What that means in terms of investment is that, with the ongoing funding, without the enhancements of funding, that brings approximately $500,000 to Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey. That translates to about one and a half projects that communities apply for and that we manage and provide support for, so that is not sustainable.

11:10 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Marc Garneau

Thank you, Ms. Gould.

We have to allow time for questions, so please wrap up very quickly, or, if you're ready, we'll proceed to questions.

11:10 a.m.

Executive Director, Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey

Blaire Gould

Yes, I'm almost done.

MK receives that $500,000 as part of the ongoing $70-million national investment. With the enhancements, we've seen an increase to $1.2 million. Again, that translates to about five projects, and we have 13 communities, so we're still not seeing the sustainable funding that we had anticipated in this rollout. We're here to speak in support of increasing funding to support the efforts of the Mi'kmaq here in Nova Scotia. I just wanted to put into perspective what national investment looks like in a regional, provincial context.

Thank you very much.

11:10 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Marc Garneau

Thank you, Ms. Gould

We'll now go to Mr. Gerry Guillet, director of education at the Athabasca Denesuline Education Authority.

Mr. Guillet, you have five minutes.

11:10 a.m.

Gerry Guillet Director of Education, Athabasca Denesuline Education Authority

Thank you very much, honourable Chairman.

Good morning, honourable members. I'm Gerry Guillet, director of education and CEO for the Athabasca Denesuline Education Authority of northern Saskatchewan. Our authority is very young in its establishment. We were first organized and have been operating since August 2019. In establishing our authority to represent the far northern isolated communities of Fond Du Lac, Black Lake and Hatchet Lake first nations, we deliver educational programming for the schools. We have four schools of 1,300 students.

The Dene language, culture and land-based programming are an important part of our authority. It is our first strategic plan in improving the language abilities of our students. The remoteness of our communities creates many challenges for the authority, and we had to house our education centre in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. We can only reach our communities via air travel. One community has an all-season road, which is a 14-hour drive to the south in Prince Albert. Having said that, our land-based culture and language programs are our first priority in the strategic plan of our authority.

We have many aspects to our programming that are vital, including literacy and numeracy. However, given the culture where our students are not using their language at a significant level, certainly one of our major attempts is to improve and provide more language opportunities.

It is important to note that 75% of the staff in the schools in our communities are local and only 60% of them are able to speak the Dene language. We are planning that we would like to instill in our schools Dene immersion programming. We come across many challenges in that aspect, certainly, with the lack of resources in the Dene language. Our elders in our communities are very strong within their language, their culture and their faith dimension.

We certainly feel that the government's Indigenous Languages Act is one that we'd look at in terms of formulating all our strategies as we want to plan initiatives and activities for restoring and maintaining the fluency in our Dene language.

Our attempts to create technological tools and educational materials, including audio and video recordings, have met many challenges. We have not been able, as a new authority, to access the funds that are required for us to realize those visions, goals and aspects for our children and our community members within our communities.

Our coordinator, who is very fluent in the Dene language, has done a tremendous amount of work in the three years of our existence to improve significantly the ability of our teachers and our programs in our schools to include the Dene language in all the instructional materials as much as possible.

In the daily life of our students in the classrooms, our Dene language is spoken almost as much as the English language, despite the fact that we follow provincial curricula, all in English. Dene certainly is a language that is used throughout our schools and in our communities.

What we are asking for at this opportunity is the funding that our authority desperately needs in order to revitalize the language of our Dene people. It is being lost at a significant rate, and it is our goal to revitalize our language within our culture of our Dene people.

We have not realized any significant funding increase to date in order for us to move forward in translating many of the resources available in English into the Dene language, so that our immersion programs have the resources for our teachers to teach the language at a significant level.

I take this opportunity to express to the committee that our organization is a model. Although we are only three years old, we have established an organization founded on children coming first. Our board of directors is very determined. They hold their children, first and foremost, in their hearts and their deliberations.

All of our programming and initiatives are directed toward our children. In particular, our language is sacred to them, which we desperately want to revitalize. Our children need to learn more of their language, their land base and their culture. We are attempting to do that in revitalizing the language aspect within our communities and, in particular, within our schools. To initiate any kind of immersion program in Dene, we lack many of the resources to enable that vision to move forward.

It is my intent, Mr. Chairman and honourable members, to present to you today a challenge that the Athabasca Denesuline Education Authority faces in revitalizing our language, certainly according to Bill C-91, the Indigenous Languages Act. We are really looking at having more opportunity within the funding regime so that we can address those issues for our communities and our people.

I thank you for that.

11:20 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Marc Garneau

Thank you, Mr. Guillet.

We will now proceed to a round of questions. We will begin with—

11:20 a.m.

The Clerk of the Committee Ms. Vanessa Davies

I'm sorry, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Denny logged on.

11:20 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Marc Garneau


Before we go to questions, we'll have our third witness here.

Welcome, Chief Leroy Denny of the Eskasoni First Nation, to this panel. We will provide you with five minutes to make introductory remarks, and then we'll get down to the questions.

If you're ready, Chief Denny, the microphone is yours for five minutes.

11:20 a.m.

Chief Leroy Denny Eskasoni Band Council, Eskasoni First Nation

Good afternoon.

My name is Chief Leroy Denny from Eskasoni. Welcome to you all from Eskasoni First Nation.

I know that in the opening statement on behalf of the Mi'kmaw Kina’matnewey, our executive director touched on a few things there with the ongoing funding that has been discussed. MK receives annually $500,000. We are currently managing the funding through the indigenous language component.

The current investment from the ILC funding provides the region with a total of $1.2 million, and the goal of the indigenous language component funding is to support community-based projects that contribute to the strengthening of our cultural identity, as well as the preservation and revitalization of the Mi'kmaq language, which my community has been really pushing for a long time, and MK has been pushing.

An example is our all-immersion school here in Eskasoni. Our community members Tom and Carol Anne have been contributing to the resources by making movies and translating movies and cartoons. Even as of now, they are in Paris for the beginning of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages. I just want to call out to them for these projects, which are working quite well.

To put this into perspective, the funding we receive allows only approximately four or five projects. This means that we are forced to really choose certain projects to approve and others to deny, and we have to cut from everybody in order to provide a little to everyone. These projects are coming in, and the ideas that are coming in from our language communities are amazing projects.

We're trying to help our elders, because many of our elders are starting to pass away. Every time an elder passes away, they take the whole knowledge like a library with them, so time is of the essence here. It's really important that we have extra support and extra funding. This is simply not nearly enough of an investment. We really need to start working to move more quickly, move faster, and have more funds.

We have 13 Mi'kmaq communities in our province, and we need more funding in order to fully support everyone's efforts. We're starting to look into music and videos, and we're trying to really find this generation. Considering the generation that I grew up in, these are different now. There's a different generation, and we're trying to promote and revitalize our languages through technology and through movies in some way.

If this government is serious about the objectives set out in the Indigenous Languages Act, the funding must back the objectives. We have all the objectives laid out in front of you. Again, our concern is that it is limited. Certainly from this act, we need more room to work with our communities and all those who submit proposals, such as MK. Many proposals we submit so people like Tom and Carol Anne and our schools.... We're in the process of building a Mi'kmaq language studio to translate movies and cartoons and have young people be involved in creating and developing film for this generation for our communities.

Again, time is of the essence for us, as our Mi'kmaq language community is getting smaller and we're starting to lose more and more of our knowledge-keepers and especially our language warriors. Again, I hope that this helps to make it possible, and this is a plea that we need more funding for this and more room.


11:25 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Marc Garneau

Thank you very much, Chief Denny.

For the benefit of our committee members, we're going to have time for only one round, but I think we can increase the time for each of the four speakers to seven minutes.

We will start with Mr. Vidal.

Mr. Vidal, you have seven minutes.

11:25 a.m.


Gary Vidal Conservative Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to thank all our guests today for appearing and presenting your testimony for us.

I'm going to start with Mr. Guillet.

Thank you for being here, Mr. Guillet. You talked in your presentation about the priorities of your educational authority being language, culture and land-based learning. I know that in earlier conversations we have talked about that being combined with literacy, mathematics and retention levels.

Recently you were denied a funding application from Heritage Canada for language programming in your school. I have two quick questions on that. Were you given a reason for the denial? Second, what could you have done? What would you have been able to do with that funding for your students in northeast Saskatchewan if you had received that?

11:25 a.m.

Director of Education, Athabasca Denesuline Education Authority

Gerry Guillet

Thank you, Mr. Vidal.

The only reasons we were given.... Our application was submitted in November 2021. On December 2, 2022, I finally received correspondence from Canadian Heritage, which said, “in a context of limited funds, I regret to inform you that at this time, the Department is unable to approve a financial contribution for your project.”

Our project was to revitalize our language and to have the ability to provide resources for our teachers. If we are to implement an immersion Dene language program in our schools, teachers need resources to teach with, and there are extremely limited resources available in Dene. Our project was to provide more resources through translating current English material into our Dene language and to provide some videos of our elders and also some audio of our elders.

We had applied for a grant of $300,000. Our project would have cost $450,000. We applied for $300,000 and were denied.

11:25 a.m.


Gary Vidal Conservative Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

All right. Thank you for that.

Further on the funding angle, you said that when you established the authority in 2019, this was a relatively new organization. There was approval for establishing the organization, but there was an agreement or an understanding that the operational funding would come as you flesh this out a bit further, I believe. Can you elaborate a bit on where you're at now in that process and any successes or challenges that you face in that process now in 2022?

11:30 a.m.

Director of Education, Athabasca Denesuline Education Authority

Gerry Guillet

Yes. Thank you.

When we submitted our agreement with ISC and it was formalized in August 2019, that submission of our agreement included a comprehensive budget. The authority received acknowledgement from our leadership in our three communities that the authority would be responsible for pre-kindergarten to grade 12 programming in their schools. We would assume full responsibility financially with facilities, programming delivery and all aspects of the delivery of education—similar to, for example, a provincial school division, although we remain an independent authority and non-political in its total context.

Within our submission was a budget submitted to ISC to recognize the geographic location of our communities. They are in the extreme north, just south of the Northwest Territories border. The isolation factor certainly creates many challenges for us to serve our schools in a comprehensive manner. The funding that was submitted to ISC was totally based on need in terms of program facilities and the operation of an education authority or a school division in a county.

To date, after three and a half years of trying to negotiate and finalize the funding, that is the only piece of our agreement that remains to be settled. We have not as yet had any kind of commitment. We have presented many arguments to finalize our agreement with our funding based on need, and every year the costs are going up and up. The funding that we currently receive is strictly what the bands were receiving at the time of our inception. All funding, rather than being directed to the bands and the leadership, is now directed specifically to the authority to operate the schools and programs in every aspect, including transportation, facilities, teacher wages, etc.

That funding doesn't even come close, now that the ISC has gone to a provincial formula. In Saskatchewan, the provincial formula does not meet the needs of our provincial schools, let alone our isolated communities. No other division has the isolation factor that we do, with its challenges. Just the flight to get my board members into our Prince Albert office for regular meetings, two days of meetings, costs our authority $45,000. That's just to get our board members there for two days.

On our funding, we have been pleading and pleading to finalize this aspect of our agreement, which to date still has not realized any kind of commitment. We have pleaded also to have an audience with Treasury Board so that we can present our package and defend it with the knowledge we have of our communities in terms of the geography and the challenges of isolated communities. We've not yet had any kind of response from the minister's office in terms of having that ability, knowing full well that others have had that ability to present their funding ask in front of Treasury Board.

All we ask for is equity and the same opportunity to defend our ask, based totally on program needs and on the needs of our students, whose current education is strictly academic. I have 50 years' experience in education. I'm not new to this game. When I see our children in our schools receiving a strictly academic program, what incentive is there for them to come to school other than to be with their peers?

11:30 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Marc Garneau

Thank you very much, Mr. Guillet.

We have to go to the next questioner.

Mr. Battiste, you have seven minutes.

11:35 a.m.


Jaime Battiste Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to ask Chief Leroy and Blaire Gould to talk a little bit about some of the best practices around Mi'kmaq language. I hear you 100% about some of the need for more funding. I think that's something we need to look at as a committee, advocating for that funding.

But let's say funding wasn't an obstacle. What are some of the factors that lead to fluency in Mi'kmaq communities these days? I believe your organization represents 12 out of 13 of the Mi'kmaq communities. You've taken jurisdiction over education since the 1990s. What are some of the things we're funding that are working? As well, what factors lead to a child being fluent again?

Blaire, you might want to start with that.

11:35 a.m.

Executive Director, Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey

Blaire Gould


We're no strangers to advocating and launching a lot of different programs and services. One of the greatest benefits for us and one of the factors in fluency is that languages need to evolve, so we've certainly embraced this, that the Mi'kmaq language needs to evolve. Ensuring that it is accessible, that it is current, that it is not outdated is something that we're always on top of.

I could show you a little bit of some samples that I got out today. We've created an oral language program that looks at assessing the oral language of children regardless of what language they speak, but most important, the exposure that they get to Mi'kmaq at home, so really connecting the home to the learning and the school and all of that so that it is centred around the child.

We have developed a lot of content that supports this program. We've done it in mathematics. We have created this supporting resource tool not just for teachers and not just for education systems, but for their homes. We understand and fully embrace that children also learn at home and their parents play a critical role in their lives.

Further into that, we've developed endless amounts of books and ways to support and tie in cultural learning and tie in—

11:35 a.m.


Jaime Battiste Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

These are all in the Mi'kmaq language, I understand.

11:35 a.m.

Executive Director, Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey

Blaire Gould

Absolutely. We've done planners. We've done books centred around what it means to be a treaty person, certainly for us, but a little deeper than that, understanding the role of family and the responsibility within the family and the roles that we play within that.

For teachers, we've done scripts and books on how to read and write Mi'kmaq. We've done interactive games and activities, making sure that we're keeping things fresh and we're keeping things modern.

On the more popular side of things, we have used a lot of resources making them look beautiful. This was certainly a priority for us because the English resources are certainly very beautiful and so when we publish content, we want to make it look just as good. We have our learning curriculum, our language curriculum, which we assess, evaluate and monitor, on how to learn the Mi'kmaq language in the systems we are in.

Also, assessment is a big component of that. Certainly we're no strangers to creating things. We've done that. We're really careful about the way we implement things and we do it with a lot of good intentions and a lot of spirit and support. When we launch programs, it's not just a launching of the program. It's understanding that we're going to continue to be present and supportive throughout the journey of implementation before we take a step back. Certainly we are of that mindset.

In addition—and I think Chief Denny could elaborate on it a bit more—we have one immersion program in the entirety of the collective of Mi'kmaq nations. We have one immersion program. It is quite successful, but again, it exists only in one community. There is a lot of desire among other communities to have the same thing that Eskasoni has, but they are unable to, whether it be funding, whether it be numbers, whether it be support—

11:40 a.m.


Jaime Battiste Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

In terms of time, Blaire, I'd like to hear from Chief Leroy.

Chief Leroy, your community has been successful in getting a full immersion school from grades 1 to 4. My son is a graduate of that school. What is the community doing to supplement the teachers who are doing the hard work at the immersion schools? What are the communities really focusing on, the cultural practices? I know the Minister of Canadian Heritage is going to want to hear about the other things we're doing besides school.

11:40 a.m.

Eskasoni Band Council, Eskasoni First Nation

Chief Leroy Denny

As a community, we do our best to.... It starts with leadership. We speak our language at our leadership table. We've started to do many things at the Mi'kmaq language studio. We're really focused on that and translating signs around the community, having people hear and see more signage around the community. That's one thing, seeing, and supporting whatever initiatives we have in the community. If I speak, sometimes I speak my language.

It's very challenging. There are a lot of successful things. We try everything. We're working with MK. We work with our partners to make our language work. We try creative things, from music to translating movies, as Tom and Carol Anne are doing. Also, they're reaching out to TikTok, having young people help them along the way. We're trying to stay on top of the game.

One thing I see that I feel is working.... This is very challenging compared to when I was younger, because then everybody spoke. Everybody was conversing. These days, everybody is talking through the phone, and there's not much conversation from our people today. We need to develop programs for young people. COVID really wasn't a good help because we didn't visit each other.

We go back to our culture. We talk to each other and have these programs, like tea and toast programs, and meet with elders, those types of things. Today we have podcasts. We have all this technology that we can really tap into.

There is one thing that really struck me about one of my councilmen. His name is Joef Bernard, and he's a land-based person. He's always on the land with his son. His son is three years old. His son is fluent in Mi'kmaq. He would always teach him about the land, about the medicines. He is very fluent. One thing that really struck me is that he told me he tries to confuse him when they watch cartoons, because everyone is watching cartoons. Most kids are watching the iPads and those things. He told me that he puts on a cartoon that's not in English. It would be in a different language, like Spanish or other languages, just to confuse him because kids only watch the cartoon, the colours and everything. He would do that. He was hoping that there would be more product out there, cartoons translated for toddlers, because they are like sponges. Three-, four- and five-year-olds are like sponges. Whatever they hear and see....

It's like a trend. Right now, the trend is that everybody is speaking English. People will just.... With all that work we do in immersion and all that families do to try to really help their children speak the language, once they go out in the outside world, they get involved in the trends, speaking English or whatever slang we sometimes hear in certain communities.

That's basically it. I think land-based culture is also key, teaching our children about the land and its terms—

11:40 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Marc Garneau

Thank you, Chief Denny. I apologize for cutting you off. We have to keep to a certain time.

Mrs. Gill, you have the floor for seven minutes.

11:40 a.m.


Marilène Gill Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to thank all the witnesses today for sharing their knowledge. I would like to take this opportunity to wish them a happy International Decade of Indigenous Languages, which started this year. I hope this decade will be a positive one for indigenous languages.

As an MP, it is my pleasure to represent speakers of the Innu language, which is very much alive in my riding. We have a very vibrant cultural institute whose mission is to strengthen and sustain the language. That's what we all want for all indigenous languages.

Ms. Gould talked about how the situation is critical for people from zero to 12 years of age who do not speak the language actively at this time.

Mr. Denny talked about how, unfortunately, time is running out as we lose our elders, who are really our living libraries.

We heard a little about the $1.2 million for one-time projects under various programs. I'd like to hear more from the witnesses. Yes, a bill was passed in 2019, and that takes several years to be implemented, but there are still needs that have to be met in the meantime. There are budgets and we can already start thinking about what's going to happen when the act is fully in force.

What kind of funding do communities like yours need to revitalize, maintain and strengthen indigenous languages?

As the minister knows, the ask in this bill was for adequate, stable, long-term funding, which is not what we have right now. I think Mr. Guillet mentioned that when he talked about requests others made that were granted by Treasury Board while his Dene community did not get any funding.

Mr. Guillet, Mr. Denny and Ms. Gould, in that order, can you tell us what your communities need in terms of stable, adequate, long-term funding to strengthen, revitalize and maintain indigenous languages?

11:45 a.m.

Director of Education, Athabasca Denesuline Education Authority

Gerry Guillet

Thank you, Mrs. Gill.

That's really what we're asking for, funding to continue revitalizing the Dene language in northern Saskatchewan. We haven't yet received funding to continue or expand our language and culture programs. We still want to implement immersion programs to make the language accessible to young people in particular, but we don't have the resources. It's always a huge challenge to get the resources we need to offer instruction in our language.