North Island College Kwak’wala students building online community

Submitted to The Record

North Island College Kwak’wala students are exploring language and culture in new ways and building an online community.

The language courses were transitioned to digital delivery this summer, bringing new opportunities for students to learn the language. The transition to digital learning has proven successful for students, thanks to the support from their instructors.

Kwak’wala courses are taught by two instructors and an NIC Elder in Residence, who answers questions, provides perspective, gives context to questions that emerge and helps with pronunciation.

“We felt very connected to our instructors and our Elder, Evelyn Voyageur,” said Comox student Jeannine Lindsay. “We could send them a quick message asking what a word was and they would respond instantly.”

The class offers students the ability to participate at their comfort level. Students are able to study from the comfort of their own home, focus on themselves and find a balance for their learning style.

For Lindsay, taking the course online gave her the opportunity to concentrate on her studies and more on herself.

“I felt it very easy to multi-task,” said Lindsay. “I felt more comfortable to go online and do research at the same time while I was in class. I had my computer set up, and I was listening to everyone, but I also had my book out and I’m taking notes.”

The digital offering also allowed students from across the region to access the same class.

“I think being able to offer it online has really been easier for a lot of people to take it,” said student Rory Annett, who lives on Quadra Island. “The people who are learning it are from Nanaimo, Victoria, Quadra Island and Port Hardy, and are all able to join in on the same course and create a virtual community. If everyone had to attend physically, that just wouldn’t be possible.”

Annett and his wife took Kwak’wala Immersion 1 together this spring with goals to connect to the area they are living in and understand the culture.

“Learning to speak the language has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” he said. “It’s a way to connect to the land.”

NIC will be offering digital Kwak’wala courses this fall.

Introduction to Kwak’wala and Introduction to Likʷala/Kwak’wala (KWA-096) will be offered tuition-free through NIC’s Adult Basic Education program.

Kwak’wala Immersion 1 (ILF-101), Kwak’wala Immersion 2 (ILF-102) and Pathways to Reconciliation and Social Action (ILF-111) will be offered through the University Studies program.

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