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Officials announce the $6-million Indigenous Language in Education grant program at the Tsuut’ina Nation council chambers. (Erin Collins/CBC) A new program in Alberta aims to bring Indigenous languages into classrooms across the province.

Heralded as the first of its kind in Canada, the Indigenous Language in Education grant program will see the province invest $6 million to increase the number of teachers versed in First Nation languages and expand resource development for early childhood education and K-12 classes.

Funding will be split over two years, with $4 million going toward instructor development at colleges and universities and $2 million going to organizations with expertise in developing Indigenous language resources.

"This new flow of money gives us a chance for us to actually do some real hard study and gather more information for pedagogy, so it’s a very important flow of money we’ve never had before," Bruce Starlight, the language commissioner for the Tsuut’ina Nation near Calgary told The Homestretch on Thursday. Tsuut’ina Elder Bruce Starlight is one of only 29 people in the world who speak the language fluently. (Nelly Alberola/Radio-Canada) Starlight is one of only 29 people in the world who speak the Tsuut’ina language fluently.

"There’s a lot of interest from the young people, trying to find their identity," he said.

"It’s part self-esteem, nationhood and all of that, it’s all moulded into our culture. If you don’t have your language, it’s pretty difficult to live your culture. In our worldview, everything is contained in language."

And mastering Indigenous languages is about more than just learning words and phrases, said Starlight.

"All the indigenous languages, they have a format that’s not found in English," he said. "Within the verb phrase there’s an embedded verb, so the modifiers are to the left and right of the verb … that’s not found in English. If we learn our language the way it’s supposed to be learned, and not the English format like ESL, we have more success."

With files from The Homestretch and Livia Manywounds

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