Culture and Language Revitalization

Reconciliation through language vitalization: Supporting the Victoria Native Friendship Centre’s Elders Program

The goal of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre’s (VNFC) Language Revitalization & Elders Program is to provide support to those most vulnerable in the community. Elders have survived residential school, lifelong poverty, cultural displacement and ongoing racist attitudes.

Language revitalization heals old residential school wounds, enables intergenerational connections to overcome trauma and has a lasting impact on reconciliation within the Victoria community.

Supported by funding from the IRF, the VNFC is able to offer free weekly Indigenous language classes with Elders’ help for youth, families and community members who want to revitalize their language. The program currently offers Cree (both TH and Y dialects), Dakota, Anishinaabe, Nu-Chah- Nulth, Dene, Tlinget and Tsimshian classes.

The Language Revitalization & Elders Program is instrumental in building the community, offering a gateway to urban Indigenous youth, taking a vital step in Indigenous education and community building, and actively working towards reconciliation. Through these programs, the community is rebuilding, reconciling and recovering. Initiatives like the Victoria Native Friendship Centre’s Language Revitalization, reclaim and preserve Indigenous language and culture, paving the way for a better tomorrow.

The Victoria Native Friendship Centre has well-established programs that seek to support Indigenous youth and community members in need of a cultural connection. One of the most significant programs they have is the Elders Program. Elders provide much-needed cultural support to youth, families, and the community members longing for cultural awareness. They lead activities such as cedar weaving, beading, and drum making, among others.

Language classes at VNFC are fully attended and have a strong impact on lost culture with seven different classes occurring weekly, and a long waiting list of community members hoping to participate. The act of language revitalization has helped overcome trauma and build intergenerational connections, thereby having a lasting impact on reconciliation within the Victoria community. 

Language revitalization classes offered at the VNFC provides a gateway to urban Indigenous youth who have been displaced by governments. Being able to connect with their traditional culture and language helps them to overcome feelings of being lost and forgotten, closing the gap in Indigenous education and community building.

Dioceses of Victoria