The Community Language Project includes a YouTube channel with videos teaching stories, verbs, vocabulary and grammar. Photo, screenshot

Campbell River schools, First Nations preserve traditional tongue

Project uses new technology to promote language to kids

School District No. 72 is combining new technology with the wisdom of Elders as a means to preserve First Nations languages.

At the June 19 board meeting, some of those involved with the Community Language Project spoke about their latest activities of the project, which matches Elders with teachers to preserve Kwakwala/Likwala language.

The project is a collaboration between the school district’s Indigenous education program with the local First Nations communities, the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre and the First Peoples Cultural Council.

RELATED STORY: All Campbell River school district leads the way with indigenous training for staff

Greg Johnson, district principal of Indigenous education, introduced mentees Brody Naknakim and Dana Roberts and mentor Emily Aitken, and outlined the importance of the project in promoting the success of First Nations students.

“The research shows that the more that Indigenous students are connected to culture, language, heritage and history, the more successful they are,” he said.

Roberts talked about response from the young students.

“I know our kids are stronger when we have language,” she said. “They’re sponges, they just learn fast.”

The project starts with the Elders teaching the teachers. For the mentoring program, she said there were five of them currently learning the language but the hope was to double the number of speakers that can pass on the language.

The mentors and mentees are capturing the langauge on videos, posted on a YouTube channel called Easy Lessons in Liq’wala /Kwak’wala. These cover stories and legends, grammar, verbs and vocabulary. Naknakim said they have identified distinct language sounds and showed school trustees the chart they use.

“In our language there are 48 sounds that are distinct,” he said.

So far, they have put together more than 50 videos that show daily conversation in the traditional language, sometimes with puppets performing the scenes. Other videos, such as the one Naknakim played for trustees and district staff, depict legend such as a local flood story in which a chief tries to warn the people of an impeding danger.

Roberts also said the adults are also appreciating learning the culture, adding they have had a positive response from the Elders working with them.

“When the Elders are pleased, we’re pleased,” she said.

Naknakim also credited the role the Elders have played in teaching them to then teach the young students, and he emphasized the need to document the language immediately because the Elders are getting older.

“We’re assisting them. It’s really their knowledge,” he said.

Aitken, who provides one of the voices for the programs, said their work with preschoolers starts with the alphabet and moves on to teaching through stories and legends.

“The kids really seem to like it,” she said.

Video is only form kind of technology they plan to use. She and June Johnson, the current Elder-in-Residence at North Island College, travelled to South Korea where teachers use an app to teach English as a second language. Their mission was to learn how to apply their software application to the Kwakwala/Likwala language program. Aitken has been translating the vocabulary and composing sentences as a first phase. The next step involves recording.

Following the presentation, board members expressed their support for the project.

“That was very, very interesting and really wonderful to hear about the collaboration you have going with the community,” said board chair Susan Wilson. “This sounds like a perfect storm, and you’re right in the middle of it in a positive way.”

Just Posted

YANA a blessing for Michaela, Harley, and Baby Violet

Comox Valley association a pillar of the community

Deadline looming for North Island College scholarship applications

Students have until April 24 to apply for a record number of… Continue reading

AspieComic Micheal McCreary coming to the Comox Valley

Comox Valley Child Development Association hosting the fundraising event

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select routes

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries to be sold on Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

VIDEO: Snowbirds arrive in Comox for annual spring training

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds have arrived in Comox for their annual spring… Continue reading

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Private cargo ship brings Easter feast to the space station

There are three Americans two Russians and one Canadian living on the space station

Notre Dame rector: “Computer glitch” possible fire culprit

The fire burned through the lattice of oak beams supporting the monument’s vaulted stone ceiling

B.C. senior sentenced for sexually abusing special-needs granddaughter

73-year-old Cortes Island man will go to jail for three years

Courtenay supports church renos, lunch program

Council approves $25,000 request from St. George’s United

Howe Sound Queen sailing toward retirement

Vessel now up for auction ends regular runs between Crofton and Vesuvius at the beginning of June

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Most Read