SFU Squamish Language Program


2018-2019 Proficiency Certificate

Apply Now

Learn More

8 Months Long
Vancouver, BC
Starts Sept 6, 2018

Request Info

Full-Time Adult Immersion


Start Date and Pricing

What Makes This Unique


Daily Schedule



Kwi Awt Stelmexw is the home of the Squamish Language Academy. This program is envisioned as a 1,000 hour immersion program for adult 2nd language learners of the Squamish Language. It is broken into two stages. Year one is 900 hours of immersion instruction and work while year two is another 500 hours of immersion instruction of work. Year 1 is for beginner students and Year 2 is for graduates of the Year 1 program.

The long-term objective of the two-year Squamish Language Academy is to contribute to the successful reclamation of the Squamish Language by providing people with the opportunity to become advanced level fluent speakers with the ability to pass the language on to future generations.

The Year 1 program is called the Squamish Language Proficiency Certificate. It is offered through a partnership with Simon Fraser University’s First Nations Language Proficiency Certificate Program. SFU has three campuses: Vancouver, Burnaby, and Surrey. This program currently takes place only at the Vancouver campus. In addition, this program is structured as cohort program with four university courses in the fall term and five in the winter term.

The program objectives of the Year 1 program are:

Increase proficiency and fluency in the Squamish Language among participants, from complete beginner to mid-intermediate levels.Strengthen the intergenerational linkages of language use in the home, community, and work place.Guide, provide, and protect the Squamish cultural identity.Support the reclamation of Squamish identity.Provide participants with an opportunity to begin or continue post-secondary education and receive an accredited Certificate.

Specific language goals for Year 1 include that participants will be able to:

Converse with fluent speakers on several subjects involving common situations and events (for example, describing family and friends, physical appearance, community, mental state, aches and pains, location, age, children, marital situation, personal possessions, and the weather)Describe people and objects, where and how they are located, their ownership, colour, and number.Talk about all these situations in the past, present, and future.Name common local, regional, and world place names.Reach an intermediate-low to intermediate-high level on the ACTFL proficiency scale.

Start Date and Pricing

Application Deadline: ASAP

Program Begins: September 6th, 2018

Cost: Approximately $6,156

We strongly encourage participants to apply for funding through their First Nation, as well as other scholarships and bursaries, to help cover the cost of the program.

What Makes This Unique

Join on a learning journey while immersing yourself in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language.  You will leave this program with the ability to speak and understand Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim.

This certificate provides students with the skills to engage confidently in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh contexts. This certificate will develop Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language skills to an intermediate level by focusing on sx̱wex̱wiy̓ám, slúlum, and practical conversation for the emergent speaker.

Graduates will be able to:

listen to and appreciate the rhythm, nuances, and enunciation of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh;demonstrate listening, reading, oral, and literacy skills in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh to an intermediate level;understand the grammar and sentence structures of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language;understand the nexwníw of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Stélmexw, and pursue an area of interest.

Do you want to make a meaningful commitment to your Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language development? Go well past the basics and focus on your grammar and conversational ability.

Our fun, relaxed, inclusive learning environment will help you confidently function in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim from day to day. Tim̓á tkwétsi!!


The Squamish Language Proficiency Certificate program is offered through the First Nations Language Proficiency Certificate Program at SFU with a focus in the Squamish Language. As a SFU certificate with units transferable to an undergraduate degree, these are the SFU courses you will take as part of the program:

Fall Term

FNLG 130 – Practical Phonetics for First Nations Languages (14 Weeks)FNLG 133 – Introduction to First Nations Language I (7 Weeks)FNLG 134 – Introduction to First Nations Language II (7 Weeks)FNLG 158 – First Nations Language Immersion I (7 Weeks)

Winter Term:

FNLG 335 – Topics in First Nations Language I (14 Weeks)FNLG 258 – First Nations Language Immersion II (14 Weeks)FNLG 233 – Description and Analysis of a First Nations Language I (7 Weeks)FNLG 234 – Description and Analysis of a First Nations Language II (7 Weeks)FNLG 200 – Introduction to Grammar in a First Nations Language (14 Weeks)

Each course is approximately 90 hours of in-class time. A few courses will contain assignments, including final projects. In addition, each term includes an final oral exam.

The medium by which all the courses are taught is exclusively the Squamish Language. This means the entire program is immersion with zero English.

What You Will Learn:

How to explain the rules of a game or give instructions on how to make a dinner dish.How to talk about historical events.How to ask for help.How to talk about what you’ve learned, what you like to do, and where you’ve been.How to tell time, dates, weather, and have conversations about them.How to ask for directions, order off a menu, talk about your weekend.How to greet those of the same age and older.And so much more!

Daily Schedule

Each day follows a simple structure. Classes typically start at 8:30am and finish at 4:20pm. Any time lost as a result of student tardiness (for example, if half the class arrives late) will result in additional time added onto the end of the term.

8:30-9:00am: Morning Announcements

9:00am-12:00pm: Language Lessons

12:00pm-1:00pm: Lunch Break

1:00-4:00pm: Conversation Practice

4:00-4:20pm: Day Review


Q: Do I have to be Squamish to take this program?

Priority selection will be given to those with Squamish ancestry.

Applicants do not need to be members of the Squamish Nation to apply.

Q: Do the credits I receive from this program count towards something?

Yes. The 27 units/credits you receive from completing this certificate can be used towards an undergraduate degree program at SFU, or transferred to another university.

Q: What are you looking for in an applicant?

We’re really looking to see who will succeed in this program. This is not a program for everybody. We have noticed in previous years that the learners who are the most successful are those who see this as an opportunity to incorporate the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language into their lives, not just an educational exercise. We want to see people demonstrate passion and commitment; the ones who will go the extra mile to use the language every chance they get with every person they get a chance to speak with.

Applicants must show a commitment to the Squamish language. The applicant must show that they understand the objectives of the program, and that they are willing to commit to full-time language study for the full duration of the program.

Priority will be given to those under the age of 40, although exceptions will be made in special circumstances.

Note that participants apply to both Kwi Awt Stelmexw and Simon Fraser University, and their participation is subject to the admissions requirements for both institutions.

Q: How are applicants selected?

All applications will be reviewed by a 3-4 member panel of language instructors. The panel will review the applicants based on their merits demonstrated through their application. Only fifteen (17) spots are available, and many may be turned down and asked to re-apply next year.

Q: When will I know If I have been accepted or not?


Q: People tell me learning Squamish won’t help me get a job. What should I tell them about why this program is important?

The world of the Squamish Language is changing. You will find gaining excellent Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language skills will become a major asset to the Squamish Nation community as well as other First Nations communities. Many jobs that are not directly language positions will recognize a person’s experience and knowledge of the language as a huge asset.

Q: What kinds of students are you looking for?

Are you a person who lives our people’s culture as a way of life? Or are you a person who never grew up with a cultural upbringing but really wish you had one?

We are looking for people who see this as more than a program but as a movement to change our people. We want people who are ready and willing to do what it takes. This means showing up on time every day. It means using the language every chance you get. It means pushing yourself into unexpected places. It means being ready to “play” at 100% every day.

Passion and commitment are the words we use but what we really want to see is are you more fuel to the fire of our language revival?

Q: How do I apply?

We’ve created a handy guide explaining each step for applying that you can view here.


The Skwxwwu7mesh Language is one of the most significant connections to our People. It connects us to all aspects of our culture, our ancestors, our families and our generations to come. This program is one of the first stepping stones into becoming a Skwxwwu7mesh Language Speaker. It incorporates different ways of learning, and focuses on uplifting yourself and one another.

Char George
2016-2017 Participant

First of all, and most importantly, we are saving our language from extinction. We are able to communicate with our ancestors by being able to speak the language that was taken away from them.

This program allows you to become closer to others in the community and make new friends. It is different from regular university and for me personally, I was so tired of being in school since it’s my 7th year, but this program has brought new life into my post secondary learning.

Carey McReynolds
2016-2017 Participant

Ta newyap! Chen kw’enmantúmi. Haw ḵ’en eslhḵ’i7st ta Sḵwx̱wu7mesh Sníchim yew̓án ta SFU sníchimay̓áḵin. Ses men nexwníw̓it ta ens ta X̱elsílem. Yew̓án ha7lh úsaylh ta menílh!

Before the course I didn’t know the Squamish Language. Then I was accepted into the course and Khelsilem taught me so much. He is a great teacher and I would recommend to any Squamish person looking to be part of revitalizing the language, learning about yourself, and your people to apply for this course! You will learn a lot more then you think!

Kalup George
2016-2017 Participant





Reference Letter

You are required to submit one reference letter from a non-immediate family member. For example, past teachers, employers, youth workers, clients, or mentors may submit a reference letter on your behalf.

You may download and use the Reference Letter template provided here. Your references can use this template, adjust it as desired, or use their own format. Make sure your references sign their letters. You will find a place to upload your completed reference letters on this website below the application forms.

Please submit your Reference Letter via email to contact@kwiawtstelmexw.com






Dear Kwi Awt Stelmexw,

I am pleased to provide this letter in support of the application of ___________ (name of applicant) for the Squamish language immersion program. I have known ________________ for ________________________(length of time) in the capacity of ________________ , and would like to comment on their/his/her accomplishments as follows:

(Provide your opinion of the applicant’s accomplishments and dedication to their work. In your judgment, how will the applicant benefit should they be selected for the immersion program?)

Based on the above, I recommend that the Kwi Awt Stelmexw adult immersion program assessment panel give this applicant its positive consideration.



Signature of supporter






School Transcripts

High School and Post-Secondary transcripts (if applicable) must be submitted to SFU in order for you to be formally accepted into this program.

What You Need To Do:

Step 1:  Phone your former High School to find out what the process is for requesting transcripts be sent to a university. Then follow that process and request your high school transcripts be sent to SFU (see mailing address on the right). Some High Schools perform this service themselves while in other places you have to contact the School Board directly.

Step 2: If you attended any post-secondary institutions (college or university), contact these former post-secondary schools you attended and request your school transcripts be sent to SFU (see mailing address on the right).

*Please note: High School graduation is not a requirement for the Squamish Language Immersion program, but SFU needs to review all transcripts to determine which admissions policy you will be admitted under. Students without a high school diploma will be admitted under the FNEP admissions policy.

Please have High School and/or Post-Secondary transcripts sent to:

First Nations StudiesSimon Fraser University 8888 University Drive, Saywell Hall 9091Burnaby, British ColumbiaCanada V5A 1S6

If there is space, you may add:

Attn: Lorraine Yam





Cover Letter

All applicants to the program are required to submit a cover letter.

Cover Letter

In your cover letter, please detail:

What would you do with the language if you became a speaker?
Where would you use the language?

Cover letters should adhere to the following format:

Two (2) pages maximum
Size 11 font
Single spaced

The application review panel will base its review of your cover letter or your interview on the follow criteria:

Is highly motivated,
Displays passion for the program objectives,
Demonstrates commitment and determination,
Includes a vision/plan for future language use.

Please use the form below to submit your cover letter.

Contact Us

How To Submit

Please submit the following by email to contact@kwiawtstelmexw.com

One (1) Reference Letter
One (1) Cover Letter

Please request your formal High School and/or Post-Secondary transcripts be sent to SFU:

First Nations StudiesSimon Fraser University8888 University Drive, Saywell Hall 9091Burnaby, British ColumbiaCanada V5A 1S6

If there is space, you may add:

Attn: Lorraine Yam

If you have any questions, please contact us through the form below.





Have questions? Send us a message!
First Name *
Last Name *
Email *
What would you like to contact us about? *
Request Info
Book Interview
Book Oral Admissions Test
What’s on your mind? *