The Liard First Nation Language Department is this year’s recipient of Yukon’s Council of the Federation Literacy Award. This award recognizes the contributions of the Liard First Nation Language Department to literacy in the territory, and to the body of literature and language materials for Yukon First Nations languages in general and for the Kaska language in particular. Premier Sandy Silver presented the award to the Language Department today in Watson Lake.
Elder Leda Jules and the late Richard Charlie recorded and transcribed countless interviews with Kaska Elders. Their work spans four decades, generating a large repository of Kaska Traditional Knowledge materials that contribute to present-day learning, research and language preservation. Mrs. Jules has also published several academic books as wells as Kaska children’s books.
The Language Department has contributed significantly to the University of British Columbia’s Kaska Language website and the online Kaska Talking Dictionary. Its recent work to digitize language resources has enabled the voices of the Elders and other materials to be shared widely. The Language Department continues to develop new materials and support Kaska language learners in the community and beyond.
Along with Mrs. Jules, Director Martina Volfová and her staff, Jocelyn Wolftail, Paul Caesar, Emeral Poppe and Josephine Caesar, are determined to continue their work to protect and preserve the Kaska language, which is inseparable from its people, culture, traditional knowledge, land and heritage.
It is my honour to recognize the Liard First Nation Language Department for its contributions to literacy and Kaska language revitalization. For decades, this group has found innovative ways to share the Kaska language with modern learners and keep this language alive into the future. Their work demonstrates the importance of inter-generational learning and the critical relationship of languages to culture, heritage, traditional knowledge, and relationship with the land.
Premier Sandy Silver
Congratulations to the Liard First Nation Language Department for receiving this prestigious award. The Language Department’s countless collaborations with researchers and academic institutions over the years have contributed immensely to the study of the Kaska language and Dene languages. This commitment to promote, preserve, revitalize, and maintain the Kaska language will ensure it is carried forward into the future.
Minister of Education Tracy-Anne McPhee
- The Council of the Federation Literacy Award was established in 2004 and is presented annually to recipients across the country. The award defines literacy broadly, including family, Indigenous, health, workplace and community literacy. The award recognizes excellence of educators, volunteers and learners, outstanding achievements, innovative practices and excellence in literacy. Yukon began presenting the Literacy Award in 2005.
- The Council of the Federation’s members are the Premiers of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories. It fosters a constructive relationship among the provinces and territories and with the federal government to strengthen the Canadian federation.
Liard First Nation Language Department – Yukon’s 2020 Council of the Federation Literacy Award recipients
The Liard First Nation Language Department has worked for decades to promote, preserve, revitalize and maintain the Kaska language. The department’s collaboration with researchers and academic institutions have contributed to the study and understanding of the Kaska language and Dene languages more broadly. The department has produced materials to preserve the Kaska language and support present-day learners and researchers. They are now digitizing their extensive language resources to make them widely accessible. Elder Leda Jules, the late Richard Charlie, Jocelyn Wolftail, Martina Volfova, Paul Caesar, Emeral Poppe, Josephine Caesar and many others have contributed to this work. The Kaska language is inseparable from its people, culture, traditional knowledge, land and heritage. The Liard First Nation Language Department will continue its work to protect it for generations to come.