Most of the indigensous languages of British Columbia are in danger of disappearing. Generations of residential schools, policies of marginalization and adaptation to English speaking society have rendered most of our communities mute in their own tongue. When I work in most places the only language you ordinarily hear is a prayer from and Elder or a conversation between to elderly speakers.
My friend Dustin Rivers is trying to change that. I’ve written before about how he is using an fun and interactive fluency game called Where Are Your Keys? To get people speaking his language, Skwxwu7mesh snichim, the language of the territory in which I live. Last week he took 16 or so kids from our homelearning support centre and taught them some basic conversational Skwxwu7mesh. In a couple of hours, the kids were identifying theings, responding to commands and directions and learning a little about the names and history of our home place.
Now Dustin is set to host a conference in Vancouver on June 5-6 for indigenous language activists from around BC to come and learn about how to use fluency games to get people using these languages so that they don’t die. Everyone is welcome. If you are interested, register and get thee to the gathering. It’s impressive what Dustin is up to and it’s EASY to learn it.
What if languages were saved and reawakened through fun? What better way to dodge the bullet?