Okanagan Heritage Museum. (Contributed)

Indigenous Languages Exhibit to stop at Okanagan Heritage Museum

The exhibit celebrates the resilience and diversity of Indigenous languages in the face of change

A travelling exhibit celebrating indigenous languages is scheduled to make a stop at Kelowna’s Okanagan Heritage Museum this month.

Opening on Saturday, September 19, Our Living Languages is a beautifully designed exhibition from the Royal BC Museum and First Peoples’ Cultural Council that celebrates the resilience and diversity of Indigenous languages in the face of change. Visitors will learn what First Nations communities throughout the province are doing to help 34 different languages survive and flourish.

Attendees can explore a language map of BC and learn how linguists develop orthographies (writing) for languages that were traditionally never written down. Visitors will also be able to hear stories told by speakers in a multitude of languages. In addition, the Kelowna Museums Society has partnered with the Sncəwips Heritage Museum and The Syilx Language House, to add additional content to the exhibition highlighting nsyilxcən ̶ the syilx/Okanagan language.

“With 34, BC has more than 60% of all of Canada’s First Nations languages! Unfortunately, as a result of over 150 years of government policies designed to eradicate them, every one of BC’s First Nations languages are severely endangered or nearly extinct,” said Amanda Snyder, curatorial manager with the Kelowna Museums Society.

“Thankfully, there’s lots of groundbreaking work being to keep them alive, and this exciting new exhibit showcases some of that work. We hope you’ll stop by for a visit and to practice a traditional nsyilxcən greeting.”

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The travelling exhibition opens to the public on Saturday, September 19, at the Okanagan Heritage Museum. Due to COVID-19, there will be no public opening reception for this exhibition, however, the Kelowna Museums Society is hosting two private celebrations, by invitation, to mark the launch of Our Living Languages. There will be a special celebration for exhibition partners, members of the syilx/Okanagan Nation and members of other Nations across BC, and another for Kelowna Museums Society members and volunteers.

Admission to all Kelowna Museums Society locations is by donation — suggested at $5 for individuals and $15 for families. The Okanagan Heritage Museum is located at 470 Queensway in downtown Kelowna.

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Daniel Taylor
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at daniel.taylor@kelownacapnews.com
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