This coast is wet in the fall and winter. We get pummelled by atmospheric rivers that bring strong warm winds and days of rain from the south west. We get drizzled on by orographic rain. We get soaked by passing fronts. And the land drinks it up, the rivers swell and call the salmon back. If you don’t love rain, this is a very hard place to live from October through to March., when the light is dim and the air moist. Me, I’ve grown to love it. I love to be out in the rain, walking about, listening to it on the hood of my jacket, sitting by the sea and watching is dapple the surface.
This is a video of some Nuu Chah Nulth language speakers from Hesquiaht on the west coast of Vancouver Island on the north end of Clayoquot Sound. And not just any language speakers but Julia Lucas, Simon Lucas and Maggie Ignace. I first met Julia and Simon in 1989 on my first trip to the west coast when I visited their village for a week and got to spend time with them. They are revered Elders. Simon, who passed away in 2017, was a a lifelong champion for Nuu Chah Nulth fishing and political rights and Julia has been a knowledge keeper, educator and language teacher for decades. Maggie is one of the many Nuu Chah Nulth language learners who are building up their fluency thanks to videos like this and programs.
Largely inspired by a slow reading through this paper (“Over reliance on English hinders cognitive science“) I’ve been thinking a bit today about the Indigenous languages of this region and how they point at such different ways of looking at the world, while I sip team and watch the rain. While surfing and I stumbled upon this video today, noting that OF COURSE Nuu Chah Nulth has a word for “a person who walks around in any weather” and I was really touched to see Julia and Simon here.