I’m learning my First Nation language to help my anxiety. Here’s #HowItFelt

Story by CBC Kids News • 2021-03-24 06:00

‘It started to give me more confidence’

Is the pandemic weighing on you? You aren’t alone. In 2020, the Kids Help Phone received twice as many calls and texts as it did in 2019, and a recent study from Sick Kids hospital showed that 70 per cent of Canadian kids experienced a deterioration of their mental health during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, CBC Kids News is rolling out five stories from kids and teens who tried something new to improve their mental health and shared #HowItFelt. Here’s one of those stories.

Twelve-year-old Lilly Buhler knows what anxiety feels like.

“I’d get this awful feeling in my stomach; a churning feeling that wouldn’t go away.”

When the pandemic hit and Lilly had a harder time keeping in touch with friends, things got even worse, she said.

“It was definitely hard to have the pandemic going and then getting anxious all the time,” she said from her home in Terrace, B.C.

A new outlet

Late last year, Lilly was assigned a school project and saw an opportunity to try something that would get her mind off the stress.

The project was all about exploring her heritage, so Lilly decided to talk to her great-grandmother to learn more about her background as part of the Small Frog Clan of the Wet'suwet'en people.

But in talking to her great-grandmother, she realized she wanted to do more than just a project for school.

She wanted to learn Witsuwitʼen, a First Nation language that has few fluent speakers left.

Lilly, back row, second from left; her great-grandmother, middle row, second from left; and the rest of her family. (Submitted by Grace Edison)

“I asked her, ‘I wanted to learn more about my language and traditions,’ and she sat there looking at me and said she would be honoured to pass down the language to me.”

Turns out, Lilly wasn’t the only one excited to learn.

For months now, Lilly and several other family members have been learning Witsuwitʼen each week over Zoom with Lilly’s great-grandmother, who works as a translator.

So far, Lilly is finding that it’s helping.

“I would sit and practise the words and I’d get a rush of a happy feeling — a confidence — and I would feel the anxiety melt away.”

Watch the video below to find out #HowItFelt for Lilly to get in touch with her culture.

More from the #HowItFelt series:

Looking for more stories

Do you have a story you want to share about mental health and overcoming adversity? CBC Kids News wants to hear from you. Click here to submit a story for the next installment of our #HowItFelt series.


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