Issue 2: Roles and responsibilities, coordination and collaboration
Many people are involved in Aboriginal language and literacy development: Aboriginal language communities, education councils and authorities, Teaching and Learning Centres, NWT Literacy Council, cultural institutes, Aboriginal Head Start programs, the GNWT, the federal government, the office of the Languages Commissioner, Aurora College, and so on. People told us that coordination among all these groups is a challenge. It is not uncommon for one group to duplicate what another is doing. For example, ECE is doing research on language nests, and the office of the Languages Commissioner is also studying the topic. At the time when we were meeting with the language communities, the Literacy Council, ECE and the Special Committee on the Review of the Official Languages Act were all consulting with the language communities. While each had a slightly different focus, nevertheless we were consulting with the same people, who were telling us all very similar things.
Coordination is necessary for language programming to be comprehensive. However, it is not just a problem for groups from outside the community. It also seems to be a problem between some language communities and other community groups that work on language, like schools. An important part of language planning is school programming, but the school is outside the control of the language community. Some language groups have combined, or are trying to combine, the work of the Teaching and Learning Centre and the language community—although sometimes with some tension.
Generally, people believe there is too much duplication and overlap of programs and services, and of roles and responsibilities. As a result, people are confused and do not know who does what. The Literacy Council is a good example. When we asked people if they knew what we did, for the most part, the answer was 'No'. Some people, including those whom we would expect to know, think we are a government body. Some think we are the group that provides funding for literacy programs. Others think we are responsible for the Community Literacy Fund, which ECE regional offices administer. People in communities who have had some contact with the Literacy Council in the past tended to have a better idea of what we did. We discovered that the office of the Languages Commissioner is preparing a list of the different organizations, and their roles and responsibilities to try to clarify the issue.
The language communities are responsible for managing their own language revitalization. If Aboriginal languages are to survive, roles and responsibilities need to be clear. As well, agencies need to collaborate more with the language communities in the future to help them meet the challenge.
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