Dr. Ethel Gardner grew up speaking French and English but when she wanted to learn her traditional language, Halqu’emeylem, she could not find any information. Over time, Dr. Gardner’s mission became to revitalize her traditional language and her dissertation researched the significance of Halqu’emeylem revival in the lives of the Sto:lo people. She learned that language is not only a new vocabulary, but also a worldview. This perspective was shared today with Punjabi, Spanish, French, and Art students who are similarly exploring the ways in which words make worlds. One of the many examples we heard today was how words are grounded in story. For example, the Halqu’emeylem word for Coho, sxwowiyam, a contains an origin story about a little berry that dropped in the water. Her thoughtful and personal presentation was a journey through her life, stories of resilience in those who speak Halqu’emeylem, and how language and identity are interconnected.
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