Community Comes Together to Start Language Visioning Process
On Monday May 16th, Kwi Awt Stlemexw hosted a Visioning Café for the Squamish Language at the Xwmelch’stn Longhouse. Youth, elders, teachers, and community members came together for an evening of food, language games, and conversations about how to get more Skwxwú7mesh language into our lives. We were welcomed by elder Audrey Rivers who gave a brief history of the language, and who honoured some of our community members in attendance who have worked tirelessly to strengthen Skwxwú7mesh Sníchim.
Letters from the Future
Facilitator Chris Corrigan led participants through a series of questions and dialogues to help us develop our vision for the future of our language. He asked us why Skwxwú7mesh Sníchim is important, and the reasons we would tell others to learn the language. Participants spoke about the important connections between our language and our cultural identity, about the strength and pride and power that we gain through our language, about the joy of seeing our children speak the language, and about connecting the past and the future.
Chris then asked us to imagine ourselves in a future world where all Squamish Peoples are fluent in Skwxwú7mesh Sníchim. What would be better about this future world? He asked our future selves to complete the sentence “Because we are fluent…”
“… we are able to understand our culture and who we are as Squamish people.”
“… we are closer to living the way our great-grandmothers and ancestors lived.”
“… we know who we are, where we are going, and where we are from.”
“… we are united and strong and healthier.”
Above are just a few example answers. Graphic facilitator Corrina Keeling mapped our ideas throughout the evening, creating a beautiful visioning board for our team to reflect on. At the end of the evening, Chris asked for volunteers to join the Kwi Awt Stelmexw team in pulling all of the information together to create a Vision Statement for the Squamish Language. In the coming months, we will be meeting with this smaller group to create the Vision Statement to be shared for feedback with the wider community. The goal is for this statement to be the first step in mapping out a long-term strategy for the whole community to participate in revitalizing our Skwxwú7mesh Sníchim.