The Treaty 4 Governance Centre.  Photo by Manfred Joehnck

Hundreds of delegates are attending a special language and culture centre in Fort Qu’Appelle aimed at preventing the complete loss of some Indigenous languages.

The focus is on Nehiyaw, Saulteaux, Nakota, Dakota, and Lakota.

The four-day conference was organized by the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council. Spokesman, Cory Generoux, says there are fewer than 100 people in the world who can still speak fluent Nakoda. He says losing a language is a loss of identity and a loss of a treaty right.

“You know if we are truly to reconcile in this country a big part of that is to understand the cultures and languages that this country worked very hard to try to eliminate,” he said.

Generoux added a loss of language is a loss of identity and culture. He said Canada is not just a country of English and French and Canadian Indians. Generoux said First Nations are Indigenous peoples who belong to nations with inherent and treaty rights, which include their own language.

One of the presenters was Lorraine Yuzicapi from the Standing Buffalo First Nation. She conducted a session on teaching Indigenous language at home.

She also talked about traditional food and how modern diets are killing Indigenous people.

“Diabetes is what I geared by foods towards because 40 years back or more I saw my first amputation,” she said. “It was the first time I saw what diabetes can do so I started to look at our way of life and the foods we were eating.”

The conference wraps up on Friday with a pow wow and feast. It is part of a week of events and ceremonies at the centre.