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President’s Faculty Lecture showcases the importance of B.C. First Nations languages

November 23, 2015
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By Kamilah Charters

British Columbia’s indigenous languages represent one of the “hotbeds” of linguistic diversity on the continent, with more than 30 First Nations languages and 60 dialects. However, the survival of these languages is hanging by a thread.

Linguistics and First Nations Studies professor Marianne Ignace will discuss the causes and implications of indigenous language loss at 7 p.m. on Dec. 2 at SFU’s Vancouver Campus – Harbour Centre as part of the President’s Faculty Lecture Series. The event is free, but registration is required.

In her lecture, “Why First Nations Language Matter,” Ignace will reveal how First Nations’ language is connected to intricate ways of perceiving and reflecting on the natural and social world, and what is at stake for the future of linguistic and bio-cultural diversity.

“It’s a matter of indigenous identity, connection to culture, to ancestors, to history,” says Ignace. “From social and cognitive science we have learned how being bi- or multi-lingual is really good for one’s cognitive function and in the wider sense, good for one’s holistic health.”

She says there are many compelling arguments around why indigenous languages and relearning them should be supported.

Ignace is the director of Simon Fraser University’s First Nations Language Centre, and currently the director of a seven-year SSHRC partnership grant on First Nations language revitalization.

As Canada's most community-engaged research university, SFU is committed to fostering a unique interplay between learning, discovery and community outreach.

Rising from that vision, the President's Faculty Lecture Series is a public program aimed at showcasing outstanding SFU faculty and their research, and strengthening relationships between the university and the many communities it serves.