Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) took a huge step towards advancing cultural preservation with a $350,000 investment in MNBC’s Ministry of Culture, Heritage, and Language. Citizens of Métis Nation have been calling for MNBC to take a more strategic approach for language reclamation, revitalization, and preservation, and this investment is a commitment to meeting those needs.
The historic investment by MNBC into Métis culture includes $250,000 in funding dedicated solely to the Michif language. The funding will be dedicated to the promotion, preservation and revitalization of Métis cultural awareness, and include a Michif language survey to seek opportunities for community-based language programming and comes from the Department of Canadian Heritage under the Aboriginal Language Initiative. The investment was a part of MNBC’s historic $79-millon budget approved this month.
The funding also includes a $100,000 investment by MNBC that will go towards an initial business and feasibility study for a made-in-B.C. Métis cultural and language institute. Advancing the cause of Michif revitalization is a critical strategic goal of MNBC’s Cabinet. Métis have a long history in B.C., going back to the 1700s, and the creation of a Métis cultural institute would allow MNBC to collect, archive, and inform the broader public, and our own people, about the rich and diverse history.
“This investment is just the first step in a commitment by MNBC in language revitalization. Every person who wants to learn Michif should be able to do so,” said Patrick Harriott, MNBC Minister of Culture, Language and Heritage. “A cultural institute would give our Métis Chartered Communities a one-stop-shop for language and cultural programming, while reducing the burden on volunteers and diversifying what is available and offered.”
The availability of signage, books, videos, and other teaching tools in Michif has been identified as a severe gap in cultural resources. The creation of a made-in-B.C. Métis culture and language Institute would help address those gaps and allow for the creation of a cultural database that Métis Elders, musicians, jiggers, and other artisans can contribute too. Partnering with universities, language revitalization specialists, and research bodies is a key aim of the institute and the study. Offering a place to do outreach for schools, governments, and non-governmental organizations to foster ‘bannock and tea’ diplomacy and to better inform the broader public of who the Métis people are.
“A province-wide approach to Michif language revitalization and reclamation is instrumental in supporting equity in Michif learning opportunities from across the province,” says Caitlin Bird, President of Métis Nation Greater Victoria. “This funding will help our communities meet the needs of our citizens and preserve the language for future generations.”
“Supporting the Métis Nation in reclaiming, revitalizing, maintaining and strengthening their languages is essential and a top priority for our government. The Métis Nation British Columbia will be working toward our shared goal of promoting and revitalizing Michif as a fundamental language of the Métis Nation’s identity, unique cultures, spirituality and self-determination.” —The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage