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New Brunswick Maliseet Language Preservation Gets Boost

Continuing efforts to revitalize and preserve the Maliseet language are getting a boost from the Canadian government, which has funded two programs
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The Canadian government is joining the push to help revitalize the Maliseet language in New Brunswick, with $57,000 in funding announced at the end of December 2011.

The Tobique Wellness Centre, on the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, will be able to offer a 16-week language Nest program for both children and parents, the Ministry of Canadian Heritage announced. The funding will also cover a 12-week full-time Youth Language Camp to be organized by the Tobique center, as well as 36 hours of language classes targeted specifically at young people, the government’s release said.

The money will be funneled through the Aboriginal Languages Initiative (ALI) of the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Aboriginal Peoples’ Program, which "focuses primarily on strengthening cultural identity, encouraging the full Aboriginal participation in Canadian life and supporting the continuation of Aboriginal cultures and languages as living elements of Canadian society," according to its site, by supporting community projects incorporating "aboriginal values, cultures and traditional practices into community-driven activities designed to strengthen cultural identity and enable positive life choices."

Tobique-Mactaquac Member of Parliament (MP) Mike Allen announced the funding on behalf of James Moore, minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. The objective, the government said, is to “encourage and support community-based language projects that contribute to the revitalization and preservation of aboriginal languages and increase their use in community and family settings.”

Tobique First Nation is one of the six Wolastoqiyik, or Maliseet, nations in New Brunswick.

"We are trying to revive and revitalize our Maliseet language, and with the help of Canadian Heritage we are able to provide children and their families these learning opportunities that will help our language and culture thrive and expand," said Tiffany Perley, project coordinator at the Tobique Wellness Centre, in the ministry's statement. "The elders are a key component in the preservation of our language; we will be using their wisdom throughout our project."