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First Light St. John’s Friendship Centre receives funding to support revitalization of Indigenous languages

Press Release

From: Canadian Heritage

March 26, 2024

For 30 years, the First Light St. John’s Friendship Centre has provided a space for urban Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons to build up, celebrate and contribute to arts and culture in the community. The Centre’s programming and services have fostered the revitalization and understanding of Indigenous traditions and practices in St. John’s and beyond.

One key part of the Centre’s programming is Indigenous language revitalization. The learning or re-learning and use of Indigenous languages is key to gaining a greater understanding of culture and traditions. Its use on the stage, in writing, in presentations, and in everyday life build up and strengthen the identity of Indigenous communities.

Today, Joanne Thompson, Member of Parliament (St. John’s East), announced $762,875 in funding from the Government of Canada for the First Light St. John’s Friendship Centre. The announcement was made on behalf of the Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage, and the Honourable Kamal Khera, Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities.

Funding from Canadian Heritage includes $567,875 from the Indigenous Languages and Cultures Program, which will allow First Light to deliver an Indigenous language activity program, a language and culture camp, and an Indigenous languages community library. These programs will be delivered in Mi’kmaw, Innu-Aimun, and Inuktitut. Canadian Heritage has also provided $150,000 to enhance events and activities offered at the Centre for Performance and Creativity’s space with new equipment, livestreaming capabilities, and a purpose-built storage unit to keep equipment safe and secure. In addition, First Light received over $45,000 through the Small Projects component of the Government of Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund. This funding is going toward two accessible doors and an accessible washroom, which will help improve access and participation by persons with disabilities in programs offered by the First Light St. John’s Friendship Centre.

Quotes
“Indigenous languages are an essential part of First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture. First Light is providing a space and programming for urban Indigenous people from the region to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen their Indigenous languages. With each performance, workshop, and conversation in an Indigenous language at First Light and beyond, we see the steps along the pathway of reconciliation. I wish the Centre great success as it continues to revitalize Indigenous culture.

—The Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage
“Through the Enabling Accessibility Fund, we’re helping organizations across the country create more accessible spaces. Funding for the First Light St. John’s Friendship Centre will enable Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists and audiences with disabilities to access the Centre and participate socially and culturally in the vibrant St. John’s community. It’s these high-impact projects that bring us closer to our goal of building more inclusive communities across Canada.”

—The Honourable Kamal Khera, Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities
“First Light St. John’s Friendship Centre provides an important space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons to gather, create, collaborate and learn. With today’s funding announcement, people in our communities will have the opportunity to reconnect, learn and speak their Indigenous language. Along with state-of-the-art equipment upgrades at the Centre, we are confident that First Light will continue to have a positive impact in St. John’s and beyond.”

—Joanne Thompson, Member of Parliament (St. John’s East)
“First Light is honoured to receive support from the Government of Canada. At First Light, we deeply value the intrinsic connection between Indigenous languages, the land, and cultural identity. Preserving and revitalizing our traditional languages is vital for safeguarding our heritage and passing it on to future generations. With the generous funding from Canadian Heritage and Employment and Social Development Canada, we are empowered to advance our commitment to Indigenous language revitalization, fostering a meaningful connection to the land, and facilitating on-the-land learning experiences.”

—Stacey Howse, Executive Director, First Light St. John’s Friendship Centre

Quick facts

  • First Light St. John’s Friendship Centre, incorporated in 1983, is a non-profit Indigenous arts organization located in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. It serves the urban Indigenous and non-Indigenous community by providing programs and services rooted in the revitalization, strengthening and celebration of Indigenous cultures and languages in the spirit of trust, respect and friendship.
  • The First Light Centre for Performance and Creativity offers meaningful opportunities for artist development, production and performance in its 550-seat concert hall, along with a spacious and versatile multi-purpose room used for various Indigenous artistic and cultural programming. Activities at the Centre for Performance and Creativity normally attract over 7,500 audience members annually.
  • First Light has received funding from Canadian Heritage since 1991–1992 and from the Indigenous Languages Component since 2017–2018. The objectives of the Indigenous Languages and Cultures Program are to support the efforts of Indigenous peoples to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages.
  • The Canada Cultural Spaces Fund (CCSF) supports the improvement of physical conditions for arts, heritage, culture and creative innovation. The Fund supports renovation and construction projects, the acquisition of specialized equipment and feasibility studies related to cultural spaces. The long-term results of the CCSF will allow Canadians to value and access arts and heritage spaces in their community for creation, collaboration, presentation, preservation and exhibition.
  • The Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) is a federal grants and contributions program that supports projects across Canada that improve the accessibility, safety and inclusion of persons with disabilities in communities and the labour market. Projects that have been funded under the EAF help thousands of Canadians take part in programs, services, and employment opportunities in their communities and workplaces.

Associated links

Contacts
For more information (media only), please contact:

Ariane Joazard-Bélizaire
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage
ariane.joazard-belizaire@pch.gc.ca

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage
1-819-994-9101
1-866-569-6155
media@pch.gc.ca

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
819-994-5559
media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca

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