North

Evelyn Skookum honoured on Aboriginal Languages Day

Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation is celebrating National Aboriginal Languages Day with a feast to honour an elder who dedicated her life's work to the Northern Tutchone language and culture.

Granddaughter continues Skookum's legacy by promoting Northern Tutchone language

Jocelyn Skookum, language instructor trainee with Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation, holds a picture of her grandmother, Evelyn Skookum, winning a language award in 2013. (Shinoah Young/CBC)

Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation is celebrating Aboriginal Languages Day with a feast to honour an elder who dedicated her life's work to the Northern Tutchone language and culture.

Evelyn Skookum, who died in February, won the Ruth Welsh Memorial Award in 2013, a prestigious language award. 

She also taught her granddaughter, Jocelyn Skookum, how to speak Northern Tutchone fluently. Now, Jocelyn is a language instructor trainee with the First Nation in Carmacks, YT.

"I've been interested in language since, like, kindergarten," says Jocelyn. "I just had a passion for it and my grandma just encouraged me to get into language and the importance of it." 

Northern Tutchone is spoken in the Yukon communities of Mayo, Pelly Crossing, Stewart Crossing, Carmacks and Beaver Creek, according to the Yukon Native Language Centre. 

Jocelyn says losing her grandmother was difficult, but says she'll continue Skookum's legacy by passing on Northern Tutchone language and culture to others because that's her passion.  

"She encouraged everyone to learn and speak their language. She understood this was a very important legacy to be shared," says Jocelyn. 

According to a Census 2011 summary published by the Yukon Bureau of Statistics, about 800 people or 2.5 per cent of the Yukon population speak an aboriginal language. 

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