Language is imperative in First Nations culture, as no pre colonization histories are written. This is why there is no way to know how many distinct languages there were pre colonization. As diseases and conflicts reduced the population so incredibly many languages died with their people. In British Columbia, there would have been approximately eight language families. A language family is essentially a group of languages that root from similar vocabulary. (Muckle)
Today there are about thirty remaining languages in the British Columbia area. It is difficult to know exactly how many there are, as they are not all recorded.
Here is a language map from the The Human Early Learning Partnership website from the University of British Columbia:
In West Vancouver heading to Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway, we can see road signs that display both English and Squamish words. This type of physical representation is an excellent start to the movement of decolonization.
Here at Capilanou, one of our professors, Dwight Gardiner has worked with Shuswap and Salish languages to record and preserve the language. In addition, Gardiner proposed a language course teaching the Squamish language at Capilanou in 2009.
Marianne Ignace is working to preserve First Nations languages in BC.
Here is a closer look at the Coast Salish Language groups in our area: