UBC Linguistics statement on First Nations Languages

The UBC Department of Linguistics is a world-renowned center for the study of the indigenous languages of the Americas, with a particular focus on the First Nations languages of western Canada. Many of our faculty have either a primary or strong secondary research interest in the languages of the Americas: we have investigated and/or are currently investigating languages from the Algonquian, Athabaskan, Iroquoian, Otomanguean, Salishan, Siouan, Tsimshianic, Uto-Aztecan, and Wakashan families.

Our research on indigenous language spans a wide range of theoretical interests and specialization, from phonetics and phonology to syntax and semantics. These interests are also reflected in the work of our graduate students: approximately half of our Ph.D. dissertations and M.A. theses completed in our Department have focused on indigenous languages of the Americas (click here for details / examples). Much of this work has sprung from our year-long course sequence in Linguistic Fieldwork, which features a Canadian indigenous language approximately four out of every five years.

Given the highly endangered status of most of the languages we investigate, we are also very conscious of our responsibility to the language communities we work with. Many of us have close links to First Nations communities, and have assisted in language education programs as language teachers, teacher trainers, curriculum developers, and advocates.

Finally, through the UBC Working Papers in Linguistics, we help to promote the study of indigenous languages as publishers of the Papers for the International Conference on Salish and Neighbouring Languages (ICSNL) and The Proceedings of the Workshop on Structure and Constituency in Languages of the Americas (WSCLA). UBCWPL also hosts the Kinkade Collection, an online archive of the ICSNL, as a resource for scholars and others interested in Pacific NW languages.

The UBC Department of Linguistics supports the funding initiative announced in the 2018 BC provincial budget, aimed at stabilizing and revitalizing the Indigenous languages of British Columbia. For our official position, please click here.