Shxweli Language Program
- Background |
- Our Vision and Mission |
- About the Program |
- Courses and Materials | Program History
Currently the Halq'eméylem language is very close to extinction. There are probably less than 5 fluent speakers of our Upriver dialect left, all of them of an advanced age (seventies or eighties and nineties), and several speakers are lost each year. No program, for this or any of the other dialects has yet succeeded in producing fluent speakers in younger generations, Stó:lō Shxweli has offered the FIRST every DSTC and since then we’ve successfully had 8 people graduate with their DSTC and a few of them have successfully gone onto their BA in Education or general studies. We still to date have not successfully reached fluency but the instructors who have completed their studies know enough of the language that they can instruct class and hold a very thorough conversation with a fluent speaking elder.
Halq'eméylem is a crucial part of the cultural heritage of the Stó:lō people, and forms an important part of their identity. Every time a Stó:lō child sees a professional-looking book about their language, or gets to attend a class where the language is taught, or gets to sit with elders and learn about the language, that child is getting a message.
For an awfully long time, by the deliberate attempt to eradicate the language, children and adults were given exactly the opposite message. And it is no exaggeration to say that the denigration of the language and culture destroyed people's lives. Stó:lō Nation’s work is only one part, but it is an important part of giving the members of the Stó:lō community the right message again, and of re-building our spirit. We should also point out that this work is something that the community really wants: We have never been able to accommodate the demand for materials and classes in the community.