The Yukon Native Language Centre is a training and research facility which provides a range of linguistic and educational services to Yukon First Nations and to the general public. It is located in the Commons wing of Yukon College, Ayamdigut Campus, Whitehorse, Canada. The Centre is administered by the Council of Yukon First Nations with funds provided by the Government of Yukon.
In 1977 the Yukon Native Languages Project was begun by the Council of Yukon Indians, now the Council of Yukon First Nations. The Council saw a need for systematic surveys and development work on Yukon languages and lobbied successfully for funding with the federal and territorial governments. Requests for Native Language teaching in the schools began to increase, and the YNLP began to train Native Language teachers and to develop curriculum materials. The number of language teachers and trainees grew steadily during the first years of the project's operation. In 1985, the YNLP was renamed the Yukon Native Language Centre. (See also: C.J. PETTIGREW, Yukon Native Language Instructors: The Struggle for Recognition, Women's EDUCATION des femmes. Volume 8, No. 1, June 1990. p. 15-18)
Today the Centre staff is actively teaching, documenting, and promoting Yukon Native languages:
- YNLC offers training and certification for Yukon Aboriginal Teachers. YNLC staff and Elders have developed and now teach the Certificate (3-year) and follow-up Diploma (2-year) Courses for Native Language Instructors at Yukon College. YNLC also works closely with the University of Alaska Fairbanks in implementing a jointly established Associate of Applied Science Degree Program in Native Language Education. The graduates and students currently enrolled in these programs serve as teachers in many communities of the Yukon, British Columbia, Northwest Territories and Alaska.
- YNLC develops teaching and learning materials for all the Yukon aboriginal languages. These include a curriculum guide, language lesson booklets and tapes, dictionaries and reference materials, and most recently a range of interactive computer materials such as Talking Books and a CD ROM devoted to Southern Tutchone place names and geography.
- YNLC works with First Nations Elders to document Yukon native traditions, oral history, personal names, and place names. YNLC also assists First Nations and other organizations with translations, transcriptions, and signage.
- YNLC provides information and materials on Yukon languages to First Nations, government and educational organizations, researchers, media outlets, and to the many interested individuals who regularly visit and phone the Centre.
YNLC also plays an important role as a regional and international Centre. It organized and co-sponsored the first Canadian-Alaskan Institute for Northern Native Languages held in the summer of 1988 which attracted students from the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alaska, and the Yukon. In recent years YNLC has worked closely with the University of Alaska Fairbanks to offer a joint degree in Native Language Education. YNLC also maintains relationships with such organizations as the Gwich'in Cultural and Social Institute (Tsiigehtchic, NWT), the Tanana Chiefs Conference (Fairbanks, Alaska), the Mount Sanford Tribal Consortium (Chistochina, Alaska), the Tok Branch of Interior Campus, UAF (Tok, Alaska), and with individual school districts in British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, and Alaska.