Strong Languages Project

The Cause

My idea is to have elders come in to the youth centre on a weekly basis to teach at-risk indigenous youth from the Gwich'in and Inuvialuit people groups their traditional languages through games, songs, arts and dance. Connections between youth and elders in indigenous communities allows for transmission of culture and oral histories, and the passing of language onto the next generation. As the Gwich'in and Inuvialuktun languages are endangered languages with a small number of active, fluent speakers, it is a critical time to intervene for the sake of the continuation of the languages as well as for the benefit of the youth in terms of positive cultural identity formation.

Who Will it Benefit?

This idea will benefit youth aged 5-18 in Inuvik, NT. The centre where the project will occur generally sees around 40 youth visits per day. Almost all of the youth served are Gwich'in or Inuvialuit and represent families experiencing inter-generational trauma from residential schools. The youth are generally at-risk of poor performance and attendance at school, at-risk of homelessness due to low-income levels and precarious or sub-standard housing and at-risk of mental health disorders including heightened risk of suicidal ideation. The project further supports elders in the community who lack meaningful opportunities to engage with the younger generations and employment opportunities. Finally, the project will benefit the broader community as it contributes to the healthy development of youth and strengthens the local indigenous languages and identities.