Introducing yourself in Ucwalmícwts

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The Lil’wat Nation Culture Centre and Events page recently shared this incredible video from the First Voices app, explaining how to introduce yourself in Ucwalmícwts.

I love it because I have been attempting to greet the trees on my morning walk in Ucwalmícwts – it is the language of this land, a language they heard before they heard English, these trees that are old enough to recall this land pre-contact, and so it feels like a way to sing their praises and honour the ancestors of this land. It’s helpful to hear an Ucwalmícwts speaker say ama sn’an’atcw because it is taking my tongue a lot of practice to get these sounds right.

I also love this video because, as a non Ucwalmícwts speaker, it helps orient me if a friend or neighbour is opening a meeting or introducing themselves first in Ucwalmícwts – instead of zoning out and thinking “this part isn’t relevant to me, I’ll tune in when it gets to the English bit”, like a good colonizer would, I can lean in and listen, and try and make out words I recognize, and hear what the person is sharing with us. Because, in my interpretation of a greeting, they’re not just sharing their name, they’re sharing who they are, an entire lineage and culture, they’re sharing what it’s like to come from a matriarchal way of being, what it’s like to bring your ancestors with you, to acknowledge that everyone is coming as a living testament to hundreds and hundreds of ancestors, to acknowledge that we could work together in right relationship with everything around us, if we remember to start in a good way.

What would happen, if you listened to this video, and then went back to the International Women’s Day greeting that Tanina Williams shared on Monday – and leaned in to her opening words, the words we didn’t transcribe and translate beneath the video. What happens then?

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