Stephen Brown

Haida Gwaii, Stephen Brown pix.jpg

Stephen Brown is a Haida Elder who has been teaching Haida/Xaad Kil for over 20 years. His first language is Haida, learning English when he was 10 years old. He never attended residential school so spent a lot of time with the Elders in the village at the time.

At 88 years of age, Stephen still works at George M. Dawson Secondary School and at the Language Nest as a teacher/translator.

He has been involved in many projects for language, including a CBC Radio language preservation project called Legends of the Old Massett Haida/ Gaaw A Xaadee Gyaahlaangaay.

Another important project was a National Film Board project called Our World where youth made their own films and included Stephen's voice in most of the projects.

Today, he splits his time between the high school and the Language Nest. The Language Nest was started to encourage toddlers and their parents to learn basic Haida. At the Language Nest, they spend an hour each day translating and recording.

He has also worked with a language teacher from Chief Matthews School every morning for two years on language curriculum.

In his off time, Stephen spends time with some intermediate students who learn and record with him.

His greatest desire is to see some of his students reach fluency while he is still alive. He is not only a teacher of language but shares his knowledge of the islands, the history, the old ways and Haida values.

I feel this great man should be recognized for his great commitment to saving a language that is at great risk of becoming extinct. His whole life is about teaching the language and that is the kind of person who should be commended.

Nominator: Lisa White