What does it mean to live by your name, your indigenous name, not your English (or “government” name) that comes from the territory you grew up in? A lot of patient spelling-it-out introductions… Squamish language speaker and teacher, Khelsilem explores this question and the importance of indigenous language, and being generous as a language teacher, in this 8 minute TEDx talk from October 2017.
Some beautiful take-aways:
- When you are learning a language, it’s really important to make mistakes.
- It’s not a story of a dying language. That is a myth. Language learning is going up.
- Young people are committing themselves to becoming speakers of their indigenous languages, despite any major support or funding from government.
- Can we actively reverse the policy of residential schools, of systematically destroying language, by enshrining the right of indigenous people to have their children educated in their indigenous language?
- What if it was a right and policy that all local children could learn the indigenous language of their neighbourhood? Might an indigenous community gift its language to its neighbouring community, as a way of creating meaningful reconciliation between communities?
- There are 60 indigenous languages in Canada. Most of them are in BC.
- There is something beautiful about hearing the languages of the land that we come from.
- The work that is happening right now is about repairing a relationship – territory acknowledgements at the beginning of a meeting, landmarkers, carvings and welcome figures. The next step is about families and communities supporting the revitalization of indigenous languages as part of this new relationship we’re forming.