Indigenous languages lost, found and shared

All summer long Unreserved will share our favourite interviews from our community, culture and conversations. This week: Languages lost found and shared.
Khelsilem instructs an adult immersion language program at Simon Fraser University, where students complete eight months of intensive study in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh. (CBC / Chantelle Bellrichard)

All summer long Unreserved will share our favourite interviews from our community, culture and conversations.

This week: Languages lost, found, and shared.


You may be familiar with the term Squamish. It's the name of a community in British Columbia and is often used to refer to a nation of people. One of those people is Khelsilem. He is one of two lead instructors of the adult immersion Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language program at Simon Fraser University.

The program has 15 students learning the Skwomesh language  seven hours a day, five days a week. Back in 2014, a report on the status of B.C. First Nations languages called that language, critically endangered, with only seven fluent
Jacey Firth put this photo of herself on her group's Facebook page, with the Gwich'in pronunciation for laughing and #SpeakGwichinToMe. (Gwich'in Language Revival Campaign/Facebook)
speakers remaining. 


For many, social media is a place to share funny photos or watch cat videos. But for some language revivers, apps and sites like Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are becoming tools to to foster and share Indigenous languages.
Jacey Firth-Haden is a young Yukon woman behind a social media campaign called "Speak Gwich'in To Me." She started the online community to get her people speaking the Gwich'in language.


Belinda Daniels learned Cree as second language, and now teaches it to others. (Josh Lynn/CBC)
Saskatoon teacher Belinda Daniels has been a teacher for over a decade. Her dedication earned her a nomination for the Global Teacher Prize in 2016. It's a one million dollar prize awarded to a teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession. 

Belinda teaches introductory Cree, history and Indigenous studies to high school students in Saskatoon. 
But she wasn't always a Cree speaker. Belinda didn't begin to learn her language until she was in university.