The fourth Indigenous Languages Network Gathering brought elders and language coordinators from each region of the NWT to Yellowknife this week.
Increasing the use of Indigenous languages in homes and communities was the main goal of the event hosted by the NWT Literacy Council.
Gwich’in elder, and long time interpreter Mary Teya says while her language is one of the most threatened, she has hope with ongoing work like the Speak Gwich’in to Me campaign.
“I know that there’s a lot of young people that are interested in speaking their own language one day. I want to say to them that you know, when you really want something you go out and reach for it and get it. You can get it back, as difficult as it is,” said Teya.
Violette Jumbo was one of the representatives from the Dehcho. She highlighted the success of 10 day trapping program with students in her region.
“The elders they always stress that being out on the land is more productive than being in the community, because they’re one on one and no distractions from being in the community, no cell phones, no music, no nothing, so it’s a lot easier and faster for them to pick up the language,” explained Jumbo.
NWT Metis Nation Cree Language researcher Vance Sanderson and elder Mary Cardinal also shared some examples of Cree language promotion happening in Fort Smith, including the partnership with the South Slave District Education Council’s multi lingual film the Three Feathers.
The two day gathering wrapped up at the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre on Wednesday.