My first exposure to Indigenous language learning was at the University of Alberta. I was humbled by how descriptive and poetic the language presented. In this session, I learned that in English, one might say, “There is a woman sitting over there.” In an Indigenous language, one would say, “Our grandmother is sitting by the river which is the color of blood running through our veins.” Indigenous languages are holistically connected to family, land, and all species. They are rich in metaphor and imagery. Interactions communicate deep respect, and they invite you to slow down and learn about communication on a deeper level. It is a rarity and privilege to have the opportunity to learn an Indigenous language, particularly in the Indigenous territory which you reside.
There are approximately 2,500 Indigenous students in NLPS. For many Indigenous students, learning the language builds cultural identity, a sense of pride, and a sense of belonging at school. Access to cultural programming increases attendance. There are post-secondary Indigenous language programs that lead to great careers.
NLPS hul’qumi’num language Team, Elder Many Jones, Elder Jerry Brown, Colleen Manson, Gena Seward-Wilson, Adam Manson, and Cameron Park work with K-12 students to pass down traditional knowledge through hul’qumi’num language instruction. This small team of dedicated teachers are having an extraordinary ripple effect across the district. Non-Indigenous students love the language program. Indigenous and non-Indigenous students have performed traditional stories, songs, and skits in the hul’qumi’num language. One non-Indigenous student had expressed a desire to become an Indigenous language teacher. Do you think her dream can become a reality? NLPS has just hired Mr. Cameron Park, our First non-Indigenous language teacher.
Stay tuned for the hul’qumi’num language team’s Continuity of Learning Session, on May 28, 2020.