Eleven adults in the Tsuu T'ina First Nation just graduated from a program designed to help save their endangered language.

Tsuut'ina is an Athabascan language with only about 50 speakers left.

A year ago the Tsuu T'ina Gunaha Institute partnered with the University of Calgary to help revive the language and train a new generation of teachers on how to integrate Tsuut'ina into the education system.

Ellison Bruisedhead grew up speaking just a bit of Tsuut'ina. To her, it was the language of her grandparents.

"We were only taught a few common words."


Ellison Bruisedhead, a teacher and technician, wants to help pass on the language used by her people. (CBC)

Now, at the age of 24, she can almost carry on a normal conversation.

And with the ability to teach Tsuut'ina, she will make that the part of the curriculum.

"Just proud that there's something worth saving," said Bruisedhead.

"If you check the Alberta map or even the Calgary map, this city is pretty much surrounding us. We're trying so hard to fight for our land, fight for our language and fight for our children, fight for our rights, but most of the time the language is the hardest to fight for."

Bruce Starlight, a linguist and director of the institute, helped kick-start the language program.

In his 64 years he's witnessed the gradual erosion of his band's culture.

"My mom and my dad, they start making us speak English because they were beat up in school to speak English."

Starlight and Bruisedhead say this marks a new chapter in Tsuu T'ina history.