Sʔímlaʔxʷ Michele Johnson, (left) executive director of The Syilx Language House, directs others in a language game at UBCO Friday during the Celebrating Salish Northern Conference. (Carli Berry - Capital News)

‘It needs to be part of our jobs,’ conference highlights time spent on learning Indigenous language

The first Celebrating Salish Northern Conference was held Friday at UBCO.

Participants had a fun time learning a few words of nsyilxcən during a language conference at UBC Okanagan.

Sʔímlaʔxʷ Michele Johnson, executive director of The Syilx Language House, highlighted the success of the eight students, herself included, who tackled the challenge of becoming fluent in nsyilxcən, the traditional language of the Syilx peoples, during the first Celebrating Salish, Northern Conference on April 12. The conference is modelled after a similar one held in Spokane.

READ MORE: Kelowna Indigenous language conference to highlight importance of fluency programs

Over the last four years, the students have spent more than 1,000 hours learning the language.

Johnson had conference participants laughing and smiling as they conducted a language recognition game to learn the names for horse, laughter and dance in nsyilxcən.

“We deliver about 200 hours a year, we meet for two days a week, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for four years,” Johnson said.

“In the beginning, we went to the chief and councils of Westbank, PIB, OKIB, and said give me four of your best people for four years and I’ll give you 12 new fluent speakers,” she addressed a crowd of 60 people. “Those who are still remaining have been supported from the get-go.”

READ MORE: Sylix Language House celebrates third year

“This is the takeaway message from the program. To be fully supported really helps. Teaching and learning language in the evenings and weekends, we can’t do this anymore, our language is precious. We need to be fully supported, it needs to be part of our jobs,” she said.

That was the strength of the program, she said, allowing people to take the time to learn nsyilxcən, which is considered to be critically endangered. Those trained in this cohort can now go on to train others, and the Syilx Language House will start again in the fall with a new cohort.

Speakers at the conference also included Grahm Wiley-Camacho and Chris Parkin, from the Salish School of Spokane, as well as others from beyond the Okanagan Valley.

To learn more about the language house visit http://www.thelanguagehouse.ca/.

READ MORE: Critically endangered language being brought back to life


edit@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Blazing quick start leads Heat to home-opener victory

UBC Okanagan Heat men’s soccer defeated UNBC 2-1 Friday night

Okanagan Nation bringing overdose awareness to Westbank, Kelowna

The Purple Ribbon Campaign for International Overdose Awareness Day is Aug. 28

Rockets rookie camp concludes with praise from management

150 prospects demonstrated their skills over last week’s camp

Hot start not enough for West Kelowna in 2-1 pre-season loss

The Warriors dropped game two of the pre-season to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks

‘Significant number’ of Kelowna rentals over 40 years old: report

From 2011 to 2016, 73 per cent of new households in Kelowna were rentals, according to the city

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

Man shot near Coalmont airlifted to hospital

A man was shot near Coalmont B.C. Saturday afternoon. The victim was… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Renter of torched Okanagan home a British Army veteran, new Canadian

Owen Wilson was just beginning to settle into life in Canada when the blaze occurred

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Most Read