A language revitalization pole is currently being carved in Port Alberni to commemorate the United Nations 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages. But the group behind the project says it’s been a struggle to get any kind of funding from government.
“Frustating,” says Les Doiron, CEO of the First Nations Education Foundation (FNEF). “There’s been very little done to be able to support projects like this and what we are doing.”
In a statement to CTV News, the provincial government says it has committed $50 million to revitalize Indigenous languages, but this project does not qualify.
The province also says it will be working with the group to direct them to programs that could meet their needs.
Ottawa is also onboard with the project says Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, but they too haven’t been able to provide funding.
Johns plans on meeting with all levels of government and the FNEF to come up with funding options, he said.
The FNEF still needs to raise around $300,000 and is looking for any kind of financial help.
“We want to revitalize our language and bring awareness,” says Doiron. “It was robbed of the Indigenous people of this country and around the world.”
The 21-metre fallen tree was unearthed near Bamfield and is over 800 years old. It is being carved by renowned Nuu-chah-nulth artist Tim Paul.
The language revitalization pole should be finished by November and will find a permanent home at the University of Victoria.