Certification for First Nations Language Teachers in British Columbia

To teach in public schools in British Columbia, it is normally necessary to have a teacher's certificate, issued by the British Columbia College of Teachers (BCCT). At present, most native language teachers do not have a teaching certificate. In order for anyone to teach without a teacher's certificiate, he or she must have a Letter of Permission. This is a letter issued by the College of Teachers "authorizing a person to give tuition without holding membership in the college or a certificate of qualification". A Letter of Permission is only valid for one year at a time.

The BCCT currently issues five levels of teaching certificate:

  1. Professional Certificate
  2. Standard Certificate
  3. Basic Certificate
  4. Developmental Standard Term Certificate
  5. First Nations Language Teacher Certificate

The Standard and Professional certficates provide full teacher status, pay, and benefits. The Standard Certificate requires the equivalent of four years of full time university. The Professional Certificate requires the equivalent of five years. The Basic Certificate is only available to older teachers who were certified in the past, when a four-year university degree was not required.

The Developmental Standard Term Certficate was developed initially to provide for teachers of trades, who frequently have not had a university-level academic education. The first people to receive this certificate where chefs. Recently, the First Nations Education Steering Committee negotiated a version of this certficate for native language teachers. The College of Teachers does not specify the details of the program; it just provides an outline. A First Nations organization (band, tribal council, or educational organization) must negotiate the details of a program with a university. When they have reached agreement, the College of Teachers must approve the program.

The Developmental Standard Term Certificate is a good idea, but it still requires the equivalent of three years of full-time university study. In addition to courses in education, language, and linguistics, it requires courses in subjects such as English, math, and laboratory science. It is therefore out of reach of most native language teachers.

The certificate that is within reach of most native language teachers is the First Nations Language Teacher Certificate. This certificate used to be an "interim" certificate, valid for only four years, after which it had to be renewed, but this is no longer the case. Once you have this certificate, it remains valid indefinitely. (There has been some concern that this certificate would be abolished as a result of the TILMA articulation agreement between British Columbia and Alberta. This has not happened: the FNLT is still available.)

The FNLT certificate is issued by the College of Teachers on the recommendation of a Language Authority. Each First Nation may designate a Language Authority for its language. The FNILT Certificate does not require any kind of degree. It merely requires fluency in the language. What the Language Authority actually attests to is as follows:

We, the undersigned, hereby declare to the College of Teachers that to the best of our knowledge, the person named in this application is a fit and proper person to teach our First Nations Language and Culture; and
We also declare that the person named in this application is a proficient speaker of our First Nation's Language and has a broad understanding of our culture and society.

In addition to the recommendation by your Language Authority, here is what is required:

Here is the current list of Language Authorities. If your language is not listed, contact the College of Teachers.

LanguageAddressCoordinatorTel/Fax/Email
Dakelh (Carrier) Yinka Dene Language Institute Vanderhoof, BC V0J 3A0 Marlene Erickson T: 250-562-2131, local 5460
erickson@cnc.bc.ca
Gitxsanimx (Gitksan) Gitxsan Language Authority Box 155 Hazelton, BC V0J 1Y0 Sadie Harris T: 250-842-6222
F: 250-842-6288
sharris@cmsd.bc.ca
Halq'emeylem Sto:lo Nation Bldg. #1, 7201 Vedder Road Chilliwack, BC V2R 4G5 Mr. Joe Hall
Executive Director
Community Development
T: 604-858-3366
F: 604-824-5226
Heiltsuk Bella Bella Community School Society General Delivery Waglisla, BC V0T 1Z0 Elizabeth Brown T: 250-957-2396
F: 250-957-2455
Hul'qumi'num Snuneymuxw Hul'qumi'num Language Authority c/o Anne Seward 669 Centre Street Nanaimo, BC V9R 4Z5 Anne Seward
Elders Language and Cultural Coordinator
T: 250-753-3481
F: 250-753-3492
Huu ay aht Huu ay aht (Ohiaht) First Nations P.O. Box 70 Bamfield, BC V0R 1B0 Stella M. Peters, Councillor T: 250-728-3414
F: 250-728-1222
huuayaht@island.net
Ktunaxa (Kutenai) Ktunaxa Language Authority SS#3, Site 15, Comp. 122 Cranbrook, BC V1C 6H3 Craig Hillman
Director of Instruction
T: 250-489-5762
F: 250-489-2091
kiss@cyberlink.ca
Liq'wala/Kwakwala Liq'wala/Kwakwala Language Authority c/o Daisy Sewid-Smith 425 Pinecrest Road Campbell River, BC V9W 3P2 Daisy Sewid-Smith
Language Coordinator
T: 250-285-3316
F: 250-285-2400
Nisga'a Wilp Wilxo'oskwhl Nisg'a Language Authority Committee Box 219 Aiyaansh, BC V0J 1A0 Mrs. Irene Griffin
Chairperson
T: 250-633-2601
F:250-633-2367
Okanagan Okanagan Language Association c/o En'owkin Centre 257 Brunswick Street Penticton, BC V2A 5P9 Mr. Don Fiddler
Ms. Delphine Derickson
Mrs. Theresa Dennis
T:250-493-7181
F: 250-493-5302
Scw'exmx dialect of Nle'kepmxcin (Thompson) Scw'exmx Language Authority Nicola Tribal Association P.O. Box 188 Merritt, BC V0K 2B0 Mandy Na'zinek Jimmie T: 250-378-4235
F: 250-378-9119
Secwepmectsín (Shuswap) Secwépmec Cultural Education Society 355 Yellowhead Highway Kamloops, BC V2H 1H1 Mona Jules
SCES Language Coordinator
T: 250-828-9750
F: 250-372-1127
Sencoten (Saanich) Saanich Language Authority c/o Tom Thorson, Principal Box 368, 7449 West Saanich Road Brentwood Bay, BC V8M 1R3 Tom Thorson T: 250-652-1811
F: 250-652-2326
Skidegate Haida Skidegate Haida Language Authority c/o Diane Brown 165 Third Avenue Skidegate, BC V0T 1S1 Diane Brown
Language Coordinator
T: 250-559-4496
F: 250-559-8247
S'malgyax Tsimshian Tsimshian S'malgyax Language Authority RR#3, Comp. 92, Site 19 Terrace, BC V8G 4R6 Ms. Vera Henry, Language Coordinator T: 250-842-6222
St'at'imc (Lilloet) Upper St'at'imc Language and Culture Authority P.O. Box 1420 Lilloet, BC V0K 1V0 Beverley Frank Marilyn Napoleon T: 250-256-7523
F: 250-256-7119
Tsilhqot'in (Chilcotin) Language Coordinator
Tsilhqot'in National Government
102 - 383 Oliver Street
Williams Lake, BC V2G 1M4
Joan Gentles T: 250-392-3918
F: 250-398-5798
Ts'msyeen Sm'algyax (Coast Tsimshian) Language Coordinator
Ts'msyeen Sm'algyax Authority
138 1st Avenue West
Prince Rupert, BC V8J 1A8
Ric Miller
Deborah Jeffrey
T: 250-627-8782
F: 250-627-1938

Further information may be found on the British Columbia College of Teachers web site: http://www.bcct.ca/teacher/FirstNationsLanguage.aspx.

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