The Journey of Revival: Exploring Immersion Schools for Language Inspiration
Our language team embarked on a journey of inspiration and discovery as they explored two immersion schools this past week, the Quw’utsun Smuneem Elementary School in Duncan and WSA̓NEC̓ School Board’s ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱ Tribal School in Saanich. They aimed to witness firsthand the effective language learning strategies implemented by these schools and to gather insights to enhance our language programming out at Hada. “They are at the immersion stage so obviously they are doing something right,” Ḵaminawadzi shares.
K̓wak̓wabalas speaks on the importance of visiting the immersion schools, “we wanted to build relationships and connections but to also get inspiration and get our brains firing on how we can better our efforts for language revitalization and how we can bridge the gaps within our own territories and within our own language programming for Kwak̓wala.”
The Language Team emphasized the importance of seeking alternative methods and approaches to language learning. “These schools, being at the immersion stage, show the effectiveness of their practices making them an invaluable source of inspiration.” Ḵaminawadzi explained. The powerful sight of teachers conversing fluently in their Bak̕wa̱m language, with the children actively understanding and engaging, left a lasting impression on the Language Team.
K̓wak̓wabalas talks about the ultimate goal for Hada, stating “our main goal is for Hada to be the first place where Kwak̓wala is fluently spoken again in an immersive setting. We envision a future where we won’t need to speak english out there; everyone will be communicating fluently in Kwak̓wala.”
After visiting these schools, K̓wak̓wabalas highlighted that her perspective has now expanded beyond Hada, “my brain is going bigger, how can we bring language more immersive into our schools? How do we as Nawalakw help bridge the gaps between highschool and bringing it back into our homes? How can we help continue the learning once the children leave Hada?”
The language team left the schools all feeling very uplifted and inspired. “My heart is feeling really really full! I’m ready to learn more and speak as much as possible moving forward” K̓wak̓wabalas expresses. “I can’t be more thankful to see what their nation is doing. My heart is full, getting to see the direction they are going in, tłuma ika̱n noḵe’, Gayax̱a̱lasa̱me’ shares.
Here at Nawalakw, we are driven by a deep-rooted desire to reawaken our ancestral language and to see our people speak Kwak̓wala fluently once again. The history of attempted erasure resonates strongly within our community, making revitalization of our language and culture an essential part of preserving our identity. As Bak̓wam, our language is the very essence of who we are, it’s a vehicle that carries our heritage and connects us to our roots. By drawing inspiration from successful language immersion schools, our language team moves closer to the vision of revitalizing our language, and ensuring that future generations can proudly embrace who we are as Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw.
G̱ilakasda’x̱w’la, thank you to Tracy, Kaleb, Tye, and all of the people at Quw’utsun Smuneem Elementary School and ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱ Tribal School for welcoming our team into your schools and providing insight, inspiration and resources. We are grateful for your time and look forward to connecting again.
Learn about these immersion schools:
Quw’utsun Smuneem Elementary School, Duncan, BC
Territory: Cowichan Tribes,
ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱ Tribal School, Saanich, BC
Nawalakw staff on this journey to immersion trip:
‘Max̱waya̱lidzi, K’odi Nelson, Executive Director
Ḵaminawadzi, Pewi Alfred, Language Program Manager
K̓wak̓wabalas, Gloria Hunt, Language Program Supervisor
Gayax̱a̱lasa̱me’, Darryll Dawson, Language Program Leader
Ḵ̓agwiki’lakw, Shadow Alfred, Media Coordinator