Celebrating First Nations language graduates

December 22, 2021

SFU’s new master’s program in linguistics of a First Nations language, which offers professional development for language specialists, saw its first 24 students receive their degrees in June 2019.

The unique program featured two cohorts—one at the Burnaby campus with 12 students who spoke five different First Nations languages—Haida, Halkomelem, Kaska, Secwepemctsin and Tahltan— and a community-based cohort in Duncan, B.C. with 12 students who all spoke Hul’q’umi’num’.

Linguistics professor Donna Gerdts says the Duncan cohort focuses solely on one Indigenous language with an inter-generational cohort of fathers and daughters, and brothers, sisters and cousins, all studying together.

Recognizing the urgent need for Indigenous language programs and materials, many of the graduands in both cohorts focused their MA projects on language education and revitalization.