Package Review

Community Needs Assessment (CNA)

Language Needs Assessment: LNA6094 - Songhees Nation

LNA Status
Application Year & Type
Assessment Year: 
Funding Application Type: 
Aboriginal Languages Initiative (ALI)
Language and Dialect Information
Language comment: 
Lekwungen actually refers to the people, not their language. The word for the language is: lək̓ʷəŋin̓əŋ
Community(-ies) this project will be serving: 
Community NOT listed: 
Opportunities and Challenges
There is an increasing momentum to do lək̓ʷəŋin̓əŋ language revitalization right now. Many people including Nation elders, the Songhees Language Committee, Nation staff, member of Nations whose languages are similar (especially SENCOTEN), linguists, and the general public are all working on this now. The City of Victoria has declared that 2017 is the Year of Reconciliation. That and other deepening understanding of the importance of keeping indigenous languages alive, has created a marked increase in requests for lək̓ʷəŋin̓əŋ language words, greetings, phrases and information etc.. The Nation believes that the more work that can be done in lək̓ʷəŋin̓əŋ language revitalization, while this level of interest is happening, the better.
There are no L1 lək̓ʷəŋin̓əŋ speakers remaining. Elmer George is the only Nation member who is fluent, followed closely by Clarence "Butch" Dick and his son Bradley. Elmer is in his early 80's, Butch is about late 60's/early 70's. And there are several who have some level of confidence in speaking and understanding. But, it's no where near enough to keep the language alive in a self-regenerative way. There is an urgency now to get this work done while those people are still alive and there is momentum to use the recordings of L1 speakers to fill out the language, create a complete dictionary and create learning materials. There are challenges keeping Nation members in the language classes. There are monetary challenges. For example the Nation has to pay to get lək̓ʷəŋin̓əŋ recordings from the Provincial Archives, and for other resources too depending on the source. Language resources (audio, text, video) aren't easy to find. Resources are as far away as Texas (Timothy Montler's work), in people's homes, in archives, etc. (With the 2015/16 grant, that is being worked on but there's more to do.) The Nation and adjoining Nations have not always been working together on revitalizing lək̓ʷəŋin̓əŋ . There is an honest attempt to do that now, and there is more work to do. Cultural Awareness and sensitivity is on the rise beyond Lekwungen Territory, but we don't have materials nor resources to answer all queries yet. The Nation is not able to respond to some of the requests because the revitalization work still needs to be done. For example: School District 61 has requested curriculum and the development of that is underway and the Nation hasn't been able to give them anything yet.