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Workshop helps to revive language

Three communities gather to tell stories and develop ideas
Workshop helps to revive language

  VIDEO    – Members of three Coast Salish communities participated in a workshop at Tla’amin (Sliammon) First Nation recently, which focused on preserving an endangered language.

Fluent speakers, elders and language teachers from Homalco, in Campbell River, Klahoose, on Cortes Island, and Tla’amin met for an evening of storytelling and recalling the history of the three communities on Sunday, March 24. “The event was told using the language,” said Betty Wilson, who organized the workshop. “Non-speakers were encouraged to join in and were able to ask questions or relate their stories using the language. There was lots of laughter and fun.”

The following day, Dr. Peter Jacobs, of the Squamish Nation, facilitated a workshop on language archiving and documentation. “We also added in singing and general curriculum development,” Wilson said. “In the afternoon, Jacobs spoke about how his community developed its particular writing style.”

Jacobs worked teaching the Squamish language to grade eight students and now works for the University of Victoria as a linguist.

“Both morning and afternoon was filled with information which all could use,” said Wilson. “We talked about how fluent speakers, the elders, would be able to help language teachers.”

Some of the ideas Jacobs brought forward included how to document the language, using audio-visual materials, transcriptions and developing a multi-use record. Revitalization ideas included returning the language to everyday use, junior youth camps, study circles for youth, adults and parents, visiting with elders and fireside meetings.

The group was made up of day care workers, teachers and language teachers from the Campbell River school district as well as School District 47, Wilson said. “Fluent speakers and elders also expressed their ideas on how the curriculum should be developed,” she said.

One idea to emerge from the workshop was the development of a dictionary that included all three communities.