Violet Johnson

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Language: Nuučaan̓uɫ
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Home: Gold River

Years Working Towards Language Revitalization: 15

Violet Johnson is affectionately known to all the children on the Mowachaht/Muchalaht village of Tsaxana, and in the town of Gold River as "Nan."

She has been the language Elder at Ray Watkins Elementary School for two mornings a week since 2004. She teaches Nuu-chah-nulth to all the children from Kindergarten to grade four. The Aboriginal children from grade five to grade seven attend sessions with her once a week. In addition, Nan teaches at Agnes George Preschool on the reserve two afternoons a week.

This year Nan has been attending Gold River Secondary School one hour a week to expose the senior students in First Nations Studies 12 to the local language and culture.

She works tirelessly with the youth to revitalize the language she has retained, despite spending 10 years of her life in the residential school system.

In addition to her work with youth, Nan has been an advocate for language revitalization within the community. She has participated in a language research project in the culture and heritage department of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation sponsored by the University of British Columbia. She regularly attends Elder meetings and is a strong advocate within her peer group for the intergenerational transfer of the Nuu-chah-nulth language.

She was a contributing member of the group which articulated the Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement with School District #84 and the BC Ministry of Education.

Lastly, Nan's work with one of the local teachers was recognized in the BC legislature this spring, when that teacher received the Premier's Award for Teaching Excellence in Aboriginal Education. Nan is an inspiration to all around Tsaxana and Gold River.

We know she is OUR language champion.

Nominated by Rosamund Latvala