How SFU and First Nations Keep Endangered Languages Alive

A group of Haida elders in their nineties gathered around a microphone on Lucy Bell’s dining room table. Every Haida word they spoke into it was another word recorded for future generations.

It was a touching experience for Bell. Her grandmother spoke Haida, a language also known as Xaad Kil and X̱aaydaa Kil when she was young.

“Many in my generation grew up hearing it but not speaking it, and knowing how precious it was to learn it,” said Bell, now 45 and co-ordinator at Haida Gwaii’s Xaad Kihlga Hl Suu.u Society of language. She learned Haida as an adult.

Indigenous languages in Canada are declining as elder native speakers die. Not long after Bell made the Haida recordings, two of the elders who participated passed away.

Read more: The Tyee

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