The Oneida Language and Cultural Centre is celebrating a $150,000 Trillium grant that will hopefully help save what is being deemed a critically endangered language.

The grant will be distributed over the next two years and is expected to help establish a living database to help pass on the language to future generations.

Mary Joy Elijah of the Oneida Language and Cultural Centre says “We have stories galore for it and we’ve been starting to upload and it’s such an elephant of a task.”

As much of the language as possible is being collected and recorded from the remaining 59 master speakers and uploaded to the website.

There urgency because as Elijah explains “The mother tongue speakers, they’re probably an average age of 72, maybe 74 years old. The people on our team range in age right up to 80-something and most of them are in their 70s.”

Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton was on hand at the Oneida Community Centre in Southwold to express his support for the effort.

“This grant today will help build upon that so the culture and tradition of this First Nations group is preserved well into the future.”

He says there’s a real value in preserving the province’s cultural diversity, starting with First Nations communities.