Salish Sea Sentinel - March 2020

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Group shot of the class.

HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’ LESSONS FOCUS ON DAILY USE OF LANGUAGE Learning series led by Gary and Adam Manson of Snuneymuxw looks at incorporating Hul’q’umi’num’ words into common use By Julie Chadwick Students of a Hul’q’umi’num’ language learning series gathered to practice their vocabulary and hear stories from Snuneymuxw Elder Gary Manson (Xul’si’malt) in the Nanaimo branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library on Feb. 11. The event marked the final instalment of I’lhe’ xwiyuné:m x̌wu’x̌wi’é:m̓ – Let’s listen to storyteller – a five-week course offered through the Nanaimo Art Gallery aimed at teaching Indigenous and non-Indigenous students how to incorporate the Coast Salish language into daily practice. “This is a ‘very first step’ kind of class,” 16 • SALISH SEA SENTINEL

explained participant and Snuneymuxw member Eliot White-Hill. “It’s been really valuable for people to learn how to pronounce the letters in our alphabet, because that’s the key to unlocking how to understand the language and then be able to go on your own and learn more.” Being able to sound out the words phonetically can be an issue for new learners and also a possible barrier to having Hul’q’umi’num’ words brought into common use on things like signage or labels. “The other thing we’ve been learning about is how to introduce ourselves, which is just such a fundamental part of conversing and being in

public in Hul’q’umi’num’,” said White-Hill. He added that teacher Adam Manson also discussed the issue of when to speak and when to listen. “Fundamentally, the use of Hul’q’umi’num’ and the revitalization of Hul’q’umi’num’ is re-contextualizing space here in Snuneymuxw territory and bringing that back to the surface. But it’s also bridging the cultural divide that’s been created through colonization,” White-Hill said. “So it’s really powerful to approach it in a respectful way and to have people here who are approaching it in a respectful way.” The push to offer the class was driven by Arlene