Claudia Sylvester is a Cowichan Tribes member and cultural teaching assistant at SD79. She holds a Masters of Linguistics of a First Nations Language - Hul’q’umi’num’ from Simon Frasier University. (YouTube screenshot)

The more we get together: Hul’q’umi’num’ Word of the Week’ program launched

School district 79 offering video series to all

The time is always right to get to know the people in your community and the Cowichan Valley School District is making it easier for students and neighbours alike to do just that.

SD79 officials have launched a Hul’q’umi’num’ Word of the Week program for eager learners to explore the language spoken by the Cowichan region First Nations.

“The preservation of the Hul’q’umi’num language is a priority in our community and we are proud to be able to play a part of that right here in the Cowichan Valley School District,” said SD79 board chair Candace Spilsbury. “Imagine if you could greet each other with ‘uy’ skweyul here in the Cowichan Valley, the same way you greet with ‘Aloha’ in Hawaii. Language is culture, and the more we work to preserve the language within our schools and community, the more we will understand about the culture of our neighbors and friends as we continue on our reconciliation journey.”

History has shown systematic attempts to abolish Indigenous languages and culture across the country, including in the Cowichan Valley. Time and effort have been made to ensure those words and customs aren’t lost forever.

The Hul’q’umi’num’ Word of the Week program is being led by SD79 cultural teaching assistant Claudia Sylvester, and her class, who will walk learners through new words and phrases each week via short YouTube videos.

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Sylvester, who holds a masters of linguistics of a First Nations Language – Hul’q’umi’num’ from Simon Fraser University, will also teach some conversational Hul’q’umi’num so ‘thank-you’ and ‘you’re welcome’ can quickly become ‘huy ch q’u’ and ‘namut kwu’.

The videos are short but the impacts of watching and learning are far reaching.

“We are hoping the video series inspires learners, staff, and community members to learn more about the language and culture of the Coast Salish peoples,” said SD79 spokesperson Mike Russell. “Embedding Indigenous teachings within curriculum in our schools has been an integral part of the B.C. curriculum over the last few years and the Cowichan Valley School District is excited to be doing our part to ensure these tools and lessons are available to all.”

The link to the first Hul’q’umi’num Word of the Week episode can be found at: https://youtu.be/HZD-OFxIRPY

To learn more about Indigenous language teachings visit http://abed.sd79.bc.ca/ and click on ‘Hul’q’umi’num Resources’.

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