Language is Our Life Line | Joye Walkus | TEDxVictoria

11/12/2015 13:16:34

In this powerful talk, Kwak'wala language teacher Joye Walkus passionately shows the cultural and spiritual significance of saving indigenous languages and culture for future generations.

Joye Walkus, a member of the Kwakiutl Nation on Vancouver Island, is well known for wearing a 300-year-old indigenous blanket owned by her late grandfather to her University of Victoria convocation. She is well educated in the Indigenous Language Revitalization, earning a Bachelor of Education from the University of Victoria.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

marconatrix

If your language was obviously so much a part of your being, how come your mom dropped the ball? Once the chain of transmission is broken not entirely in this case but almost it´s broken forever, or at least the job of restoration is a very difficult one. Would you throw a precious heirloom into the trash? I don´t get it, unless there was real heavy repression by the authorities, but even then ...

14/06/2016
Tori Harris

I would love to learn more of our language i come from Kingcome and Alert Bay Id love to be able to teach my daughter once she's older aswell!

17/12/2015
Dan Rubin

Each language is more than a collection of words. In their structure, their syntax, their way of expressing things, languages contain entire worlds, embedding and transmitting very different ways of seeing and being. Joye Walkus is quite right that it is important not just to her and her family, but to all of us, that Kwak'wala survive and flourish. I was very privileged to work with Elders of two nations to develop programs to sustain and renew First Nations languages on the BC coast. In one case, this gave rise to a second language program which has helped more than 20,000 children learn Sm'algyax, the traditional Coast Tsimshian language. The real challenge is to move beyond teaching words, to teaching the language in practice; settings. This is hard, because traditional languages have largely lost their living context and so are no longer in daily use. The residential schools helped bring this about. The languages are hanging by a thread. They survive in the memories of the remaining speakers, they may be used ceremonially, but to come back to life, they must be shared and be used in real life daily situations. This is the core challenge. Working on programs to share and teach Sm'algyax meant we had to come up with new approaches, new strategies and new materials to achieve this. To make an old language meaningful in today's world is the challenge. It is so important to do this, because each language is a map to the land, and provides clues for how to be a positive part of the living world.

13/12/2015
merci k

wow very emotional presentation, I have always enjoyed learning about native american culture.,
thank you

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