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Language Needs Assessment: LNA6354 - Shuswap Nation Tribal Council

LNA Status
Application Year & Type
Assessment Year: 
Funding Application Type: 
Aboriginal Languages Initiative (ALI)
BC Language Initiative (BCLI)
Language and Dialect Information
Northern, western, eastern
Community(-ies) this project will be serving: 
Community NOT listed: 
Opportunities and Challenges
Within the Secwepemc Nation, there is a strong desire and interest for language and cultural projects. Since 2016, the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council (SNTC) has taken the initiative to engage all Secwépemc bands in discussions regarding a Secwépemc Governance Model. Six meetings were held throughout Secwepemcúlecw. The first priority for the Secwépemc Nation was language revitalization. At present, there are a few dedicated individuals who are actively engaged in language activities throughout the Secwépemc Nation. These include schools. The Chief Atahm School has an intensive emersion program in the primary grades, which is largely based on the Maori Total Physical Response (TPR) methodology. Neqwéqwelsten School in Simpcw, Skeetchesten Community School, Sxoxomíc School in Ésk̓et and the Sk̓elép School of Excellence also offer their students some courses in Secwepemctsín; however, the time allotted is not enough to ensure any level of fluency. There are also still many elders who have a great deal of traditional stories, or personal life stories that can be told in Secwepemctsín. In addition over the past couple of years, many emersion camps have taken place. Each camp offering a different theme based on the seasonal need, like hunting, hide-tanning, birch bark basket making, harvesting and medicine gathering. All of them are vital to the preservation of Secwepemctsín and reinforcing Secwépemc culture.
The ultimate goal is to have a Nation of fluent speakers. This is critical because a nation of fluent speakers will ultimately break the assimilation cycle. Currently, there are less than 2% of fluent speakers across the whole Secwépemc Nation. The concerns of the Secwépemc Nation members must move from words to action. In order for the Secwépemc identity to be resurrected, it is critical to reverse the power English has over the Secwépemc. Certainly, this is a tremendous challenge since generations after generations of the Secwépemc has lived in an English-speaking world, and has endured the affects of colonial policy. Specific to Secwepemctsín, it is the priority to actively recruit and teach Secwepemctsín to potential learners, keeping in mind that complete fluency is the goal.