Package has been approved.

Language Needs Assessment: LNA6378 - Songhees Nation

LNA Status
Application Year & Type
Assessment Year: 
Funding Application Type: 
BC Language Initiative (BCLI)
Language and Dialect Information
Language comment: 
Lekwungen actually refers to the people, not their language. The word for the language is: lək̓ʷəŋin̓əŋ though many use them interchangeably.
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, members of Nations whose languages are similar (especially SENCOTEN), linguists, and individuals are all working on this now. The City of Victoria declared that 2017 was the Year of Reconciliation, and are continuing that work now as well. 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, and there are still elders who remember the language and culture the better. Particularly this year, we have been noticing a few young people who were taking recent language classes that are rising up as those who will continue this work into the next generations. We want to be sure they have ongoing opportunities to continue learning and then passing along what they learn in turn. There is also more and more momentum with Nation staff using their own and others' ancestral names and daily phrases as they work and meet with each other. Similarly we are excited to keep this momentum growing.
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 in his 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 help to fill out the language, create a dictionary, create language pages for the website, create learning materials, etc. 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. The Nation and adjoining Nations have not always been working together on revitalizing lək̓ʷəŋin̓əŋ . There have been honest attempt to do that, 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, such as for the local School District. The Nation is not able to respond to most of the requests because the revitalization work still needs to be done.