Shxweli Lanaguage Program


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.

Our Vision and Mission

To ensure the future of Halq'eméylem language, we strive for oral and written fluency in all dialects, to create an atmosphere where Halq'eméylem is the first language spoken in our homes;

We will also ensure the integrity of the Stó:lō worldview by creating places where Elders can come together to share the language and our teachings with each other and with our children.
In respect of Xá:ls who created and made the world right, we will teach our Halq'eméylem language through our Elders, to present and future generations.

About the Program

Stó:lō Shxweli holds many classes in the Halq'eméylem Language as well as the first ever DSTC course in all of BC. The courses required will provide First Nations language and culture teachers with detailed education in:

First Nations or Aboriginal Languages spoken in BC; First Nations Studies or culture; The BC College of Teachers’ academic prerequisites; and Professional development.
The program also encourages the preservation and maintenance of a First Nation language and culture.  The Education Division of the Community Economic Development Department of Stó:lō Nation administers the Stó:lō Shxweli Halq’eméylem Language program.

Stó:lō Shxweli has a great working relationship with the University College of the Fraser Valley & Simon Fraser University education department and NVIT Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, Merritt and Burnaby.   Partners remain committed to an approach which provides the highest potential for success student’s views and prior knowledge about First Nations Language and Culture in order to create a comfortable environment for learning.

Stó:lō Nation holds the Language Authority for the Halq'eméylem language.  The Lalems Ye Selyolexwe, House of Elders, of Stó:lō Nation is the Language Authority.  The Stó:lō Shxweli Halq'eméylem Language Program, under the Stó:lō Nation Education Division, coordinates activities related to Halq'eméylem language for Stó:lō Nation.

The Stó:lō Halq'eméylem Language Authority may recommend individuals to the BCCT for an interim language-teaching certificate.  The Stó:lō Nation Stó:lō Shxweli Program has already partnered with Secwepemc Cultural Education Society to offer the Halq'eméylem Language Proficiency Certificate program and the Halq'eméylem mentorship course.

Stó:lō Shxweli has done much work with the FirstVoices and we have a great deal of information up on their webpage, should you require words for translation please feel free to visit the webpage. See also our Courses and Materials page for other materials available for purchase at Stó:lō Shxweli.


Halq'eméylem Language courses we have available are at UFV and NVIT, if you are interested in taking the Halq'eméylem classes you MUST register with the University of Fraser Valley or NVIT as soon as possible. As well we have online courses available with NVIT, you can register for these classes. If you are interested in registering for the linguistics classes you must register with SFU for these classes, and you must register as soon as possible. All the above noted classes are pending registration. If we do not get enough people registered into the classes we will NOT offer the classes.

We offer a variety of multimedia and audio CDROMs for sale to help you better learn and understand the Halq'eméylem language.

Download our brochure (PDF 450 KB)

Download our Halq'eméylem study chart (quick viewing) (PDF 394 KB)

Download our Halq'eméylem study chart (high quality printout) (PDF 81 MB)

Program History

In 1994, the Stó:lō Shxweli Halq'eméylem Language Program had its modest beginnings.  A group of twenty (20) Stó:lō community people were brought together for the purpose of learning Halq'eméylem to become teachers of the language.  Their aim was to learn Halq'eméylem, learn to become teachers, and to develop curriculum in a short six months.  The Program had ambitious goals, and started a movement in the Stó:lō community for some serious language revival activity.  As a result of the early beginnings:

Four levels of Halq'eméylem Language courses were established to be taught to adults, including curriculum and teachers' guides;
Teaching resources for the courses were developed, i.e. tapes, games, charts, other;
Students who completed levels III and IV were able to become teachers of the lower levels;
Some of the participants graduated from the Native Adult Instructors Diploma (NAID) and Provincial Instructors Diploma (PID), and other courses such as Brain Based Learning to help them become skilled teachers;

To become more proficient in the Halq'eméylem Language, Stó:lō Shxweli, through the Secwepemc Cultural Education Society (SCES), offered a Certificate Program in Halq'eméylem Language Proficiency.  Subsequent to completing this program, students were offered the option of participating in a Halq'eméylem language Mentorship course also offered through the Secwepemc Cultural Education Society (SCES);

Participants who have participated in various of the activities above are now teaching in a variety of communities, including: public schools, Band schools, four levels of Halq'eméylem courses, informally in their communities, and to their children at home;

Stó:lō Shxweli has begun developing textbooks and resources for the offering of an Intensive Fluency Halq'eméylem immersion program, a 50-week, and 7-hour/day program.  The Intensive Fluency program is designed to develop highly fluent speakers of Halq'eméylem.