We are happy to share some of the highlights and participant experiences from FPCC’s first Summer Learning Series.
The Summer Learning Series (SLS): huncewstuxw tu xe’ xe’ sqwel “Bringing Back the Sacred Language” was held over two one-week sessions from August 14–18 and 21–25, 2023. The series brought together 91 First Nations people from across B.C. who are in the early stages of their careers in language revitalization for one week of focused learning.
The objective of this FPCC initiative was to encourage and equip participants with relevant, practical and meaningful skills-based learning experiences. At the start of the series, participants chose one of five themes of related workshops so participants could build on what they learned in each session through the week.
One of FPCC’s Cultural Revitalization Coaches, Magie-Mae Adams, shares, “SLS was a way to uphold the next generation of language revitalization leaders. The event was designed to refine, enhance and share new skills for community language revitalization. Alongside the sharing of expertise from all who attended (facilitators and participants alike), I am certain lifelong connections were made through coming together.”
Each week began with an engaging keynote address presented by Indigenous leaders Wesley Y. Leonard and Hḷagṃ̓iɫ, Frances Brown, who spoke of the importance of language revitalization and the profound impact events like the SLS can have on community language programming.
In addition to the five days of scheduled learning, there was also an Indigenous vendor market and evening concert for participants to enjoy performances from B.C. First Nations artists such as Saltwater Hank and Myc Sharratt. There was also a tour of the Nanaimo Museum by the curator and FPCC-supported artist Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun. The week ended with a closing dinner featuring the Hul’q’umi’num’ group from Simon Fraser University, who presented their play Jealous Moon, written and performed in Hul’q’umi’num’.
As the training neared its final day, a small group graciously shared their experiences with us. One participant, Cheyenne Gwaamuuk, from Gitwangak, shared, “One thing I really liked about the training is there’s just a lot of tips and tricks to help the language learner communicate their needs as a language learner, what their needs are in the moment, without reverting to English and to alleviate a lot of stress from the language learner.”
Here are some of the positive feedback messages we received from the post-event participant survey:
“Connecting with other language speakers. It’s important for us to be able to share what’s working and what isn’t. And to find motivation and inspiration from each other. The presenters for the immersion group were great. Really insightful, and generous!”
“What I liked most about the SLS is that it delved deeper into one workshop, and I was able to expand my skills and build capacity.”
“I can now go home and implement this method of teaching language in my class and in my community.”
“I loved meeting people who are also passionate about language reclamation. I feel like I found my spark again and left feeling re-inspired. The workshops were informative. I came with an empty notebook and left with so much information and knowledge.”
We raise our hands to the hard work and dedication of all SLS participants! It is an honour to gather with community members from First Nations across B.C. to share knowledge and resources to support language revitalization work. FPCC’s language team will be sending out a six-month follow-up questionnaire to all attendees to see how their learnings are being implemented in their communities. The support doesn’t end with the SLS. FPCC will continue to support participants through our language programs and one-on-one support with FPCC Program Navigators and Revitalization Coaches.
Huy ch q’u – Thank You
FPCC’s Summer Learning Series was funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage as a result of the Government of Canada’s Indigenous Languages Act. The SLS logo and artwork depicts the Supernatural Eagle bringing the sunlight to the people, enlightening with knowledge from the mountain which was created by Joel Good, a traditional Coast Salish artist from Snuneymuxw First Nation. We thank Joel for generously providing FPCC with this artwork for huncewstuxw tu xe’ xe’ sqwel, Bringing Back the Sacred Language.
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