Hadih. Danachea. Weyt-kp.
These are the ways hello has been said on School District 57's footprint for thousands of years, in, respectively, the languages of the Lheidli T'enneh, McLeod Lake and Simpcw people – dialects of Dakelh, Tse'Khene and Secwepemctsin.
With that, welcome to a day of special celebration: Indigenous Language Day!
This is a commemorative event for the many mother tongues of the Canadian landscape, and especially important to recognize for those of us in the education field. Consequently, we will be celebrating the value of Indigenous language far longer than just the single day.
Truth and reconciliation are calls to action for everyone in the national education world. It is a truth that education was used in an attempt to erase Indigenous culture from the colonial view of Canada.
Education was used as an excuse to operate the Residential School system, and education was used as a way to hide the truth from those who didn't know what was going on in those places.
One of the main goals of the Residential School system was to stop the spread of every First Nation's language.
It almost worked. Some Indigenous languages of Canada are indeed lost forever as a result. But many still have fluent speakers and eager learners. In some cases, like here in our school district, those numbers are critically small. That's where we in education can play a part in sparking interest and knowledge once again.
We in School District 57 honour those original languages of our land and the knowledge-holders who can still pass them forward. We can play a vital role in fostering that learning, and in so doing also foster healing…reconciliation. We are so proud that our district's original languages are Dakelh, Tse'Khene and Secwepemctsin.
(Thanks to SD57's own Jennifer Pighin for the greeting graphic. Greatly appreciated.)