The struggle to preserve aboriginal languages in southern Alberta

Posted: Apr. 30, 2012

The languages spoken by aboriginal people for thousands of years in southern Alberta are in danger of disappearing. The legacy of residential schools, urbanisation and the dominance of English are threatening the survival of Blackfoot, Stoney-Nakoda and Tsuut'ina. The latter is one of the most fragile aboriginal languages in Canada with fewer than 100 fluent speakers.

However, a new generation of aboriginal people is trying to make those languages live again. They are teaching the very young in immersion programs on reserves; they are learning their languages as young adults; they are writing books and films in Blackfoot and Tsuut'ina and they are learning their languages and traditional beliefs in order to battle the demons of addiction and despair.

First Nations people in living Calgary and other cities are also struggling to hold on to their languages while making their way in an English-speaking society.

CBC journalists and freelancers travelled to reserves throughout southern Alberta to bring you these stories of people who are Finding the Words that they hope will ensure the cultural survival of the First Nations in the region.

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