Speaking assessments are filmed each year, see FILMS. After 200 hours students transform from low-beginner to mid-beginner speech; after 1,000 hours they achieve high-beginner/low-intermediate.
Envisioning a Future of Speakers
Imagine a meeting in one of our member communities four years from now —there is an ongoing land title discussion in the court system. Someone is needed who can speak to the land-based messages embedded in our captíkʷł story system in order to prove rights and title within unceded Syilx territory. A young, well-dressed, articulate woman steps up, a recent graduate of the Syilx Language House. She is 25 years old and completed her Bachelor’s degree in Indigenous governance and law while studying in the language house.
She says, “I am able to do this.”
During her time in the Language House she learned to speak Nsyilxcn at a mid-intermediate level, record and transcribe Elders, archive materials, become a language advocate and spokesperson, intimately connected with Syilx story systems and deeply embedded language-based truths.
kʷu kłsqiʔs. We have a dream.
It is our dream that this story will be brought to life with the language tools being taught to our students today.
In June 2019, eight new speakers graduated from the four year program. All were supported by their workplaces from the beginning. The program started with 14 in September 2015, supported by Westbank First Nation, Penticton Indian Band, Sensisyusten School (WFN), Osoyoos Indian Band, School District 23 (Kelowna), and SLH, and some were volunteers. Students commuted from PIB, WFN, Kelowna, OKIB, and OIB.
Graduates are now teaching new cohorts. Our dream is to create several immersion workplaces by 2024. OIB started a 4-year fluency program at the OIB Language House September 2019.
C’arís Jordan Coble WFN
Nx̌əx̌sítatkʷ Shayla Allison LSIB
Pqlqin Maynard McRae USIB
Qʷayqʷʕayáx̌n Levi Bent LSIB (teacher)
Skalúla Tyler Ernst USIB
Suxʷkłʔúclm Sonya Jensen OIB
Sq'aʔx̌əx̌ínak Sheri Stelkia OIB
Sʔímlaʔxʷ Michele Johnson OKIB (teacher)
Two and Three-year graduates
Xaʔtma Sqilxʷ Flynn Wetton WFN
St’aʔqʷálqs Hailey Causton WFN
Sn̓paʔqcín Dawn Machin OKIB
Sk̓awílx Sarah Alexis OKIB
Səxʷt̓ums Krista Lindley OKIB
Qʷy̓qʷʕayáx̌n̓ Levi Bent
Goya da Yensdih Tiana Louis
Sn̓paʔqcín Dawn Machin
St’aʔqʷálqs Hailey Causton
Mlmltiłpálqʷs Monika Alexis
X̌astítkʷ Jolene Michel
Elder recording session above with our dear friend the late Kiʔláwnaʔ Andrew McGinnis. Left to right: Sʔímlaʔxʷ, Nx̌əx̌sítatkʷ, Qʷyqʷʕayáx̌n̓, C̓ris, Skalúlaʔ.
We are so grateful to Kiʔláwnaʔ and all the Elders who share their stories.