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Archival Sources


Voices Relating to Revitalization of Language

Envisioning Reconciliation: Revitalization of Language

Source: “Stó:lō Declaration.” Stó:lō History and Information. Before you know where you are going... You must know where you’ve been... H:wp/1999/KAT/HISTORY-D4.doc. Stó:lō Nation Archives, 28 – 30.


“The Creator gave us our spiritual beliefs, our languages, our culture, and a place on Mother Earth which provided s with all our needs. We have maintained our freedom, our languages, and our traditions from time immemorial.”

Contemporary Stó:lō Voices Through Social Media

Gabriel, Brandon (Kwantlen First Nation, Indigenous Artist)
Source: Gabriel, B. [BrandonGabriel] (2017, March 29). [Tweet] Retrieved from


“Change every federal and provincial riding name to the namesake of its unceded Indigenous name. Then come talk 'reconciliation' with me.”

Lee Maracle,

Source: Maracle, L. My Conversations with Canadians. Toronto: BookThug, 2017.

“Indigenous people are entitled to learn from within our culture. That means if a language is to be privileged, it ought to be one of ours.” (p. 48)

Bellegarde, Perry

National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations since 2014, he has had many years of leadership experience in various positions. He is from the Little Black Bear First Nation. The vision that he has articulated as the Nation Chief of the AFN is “establishing processes for self-determination; recognition of inherent Aboriginal and Treaty rights; the revitalization and retention of indigenous languages; and establishing a new relationship with the Crown” (AFN, n.d.).

Contemporary Non-Stó:lō Indigenous Voices Through Social Media

Source: Bellegarde, P. [perrybellegarde]. (2017, April 7). [Tweet]. Retrieved from

“74% of Canadians support legislation revitalizing Indigenous languages. This is reconciliation. #ProgressSummit2017”

“1 thought on reconciliation; every school employees a full time Native language speaker to teach & allows them to work in the community too.”

George, Gabriel

Source: George, G. [edgegeo] (2015, Oct 12). [Tweet] Retrieved from

“I would be willing to write an op-ed about BC’s investment of $50 million into Indigenous language as a tangible action of reconciliation. Where would want it?”


Khelsilem (Dustin Rivers)

Source: Khelsilem [Khelsilem]. (2018, Feb 1). #cdnpoli [Tweet]. Retrieved from

“True reconciliation demands Canadians get active in defending Indigenous languages

Source: Khelsilem [Khelsilem]. (2017, Sept 29). [Tweet]. Retrieved from

“#Reconciliation = Same # of Indigenous Language Faculty as English Language Faculty at Universities.”

Source: Khelsilem [Khelsilem]. (2017, Sept 22). [Tweet]. Retrieved from


T'ixwelatsa - Campion Photo (2006).jpg

“Reconciliation = Thriving Indigenous Languages.”

Source: Khelsilem [Khelsilem]. (2016, Oct 3). [Tweet]. Retrieved from



Kinew, Wab

Leader of the Manitoba NDP Party, Honourary Witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and author of The Reason You Walk. He is from the Onigaming First Nation, in Northwestern Ontario. Kinew is an influential figure on social media in regards to the conversation on reconciliation in Canada. He speaks about reconciliation as a personal process as well as the reification of Indigenous nationhood and equality for Indigenous communities.

Source: Kinew, W. [WabKinew]. (2019, Feb 5). [Tweet]. Retrieved from

“An Indigenous Languages Commissioner isn’t going to help a single young Neechee learn their language. If Feds want to undo some of the damage they’ve done to Indigenous languages they should be funding community-driven Indigenous immersion schools & after school programs!”

Source: Reconciliation Canada [Rec_Can] (2018, Dec 3). [Tweet] Retrieved from


"The recognition of the special status of Indigenous languages in the House of Commons is an important step towards #reconciliation...[this] sends a strong signal to #Indigenous youth that their ancient and precious languages are validated and of worth.”


 "The most powerful act of #reconciliation that anybody could do in terms of Indigenous languages is to learn the #Indigenous language of the land they are on.

Source: Reconciliation Canada [Rec_Can] (2018, Oct 31). [Tweet] Retrieved from

Source: Anker, Kristen. “Reconciliation in Translation: Indigenous Legal Traditions and Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice. Vol. 33, No. 2 (2016), 15 - 43. Retrieved from

            Dr. Kristen Anker is a professor of law at McGill University with a focus in Aboriginal Law and Indigenous legal traditions. Anker’s article is based on the disconnect between the final report of Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Indigenous legal tradition recognition. For Anker, this cannot be reconciled without engagement and a cross-cultural translation where space is established for Indigenous perspectives within legal traditions and institutions. Much of our political and social structures, as well as ideals and narratives, must therefore be decolonized to produce better relationships. She also highlights that the establishment of residential schools was used to eradicate Indigenous autonomy and self-determination, along with culture.

Loss of Language:
“While Canadian domestic law has no language in which to express these losses as a legally cognizable harm, International law instruments have articulated several cognate and relevant rights. The assumption of control over Indigenous peoples in the IRS prevented them from educating their children -sometimes from even communicating effectively with them - and, thus, from reproducing their lifeworlds as they saw fit. ” Page 20

“While an analysis of potential breaches of rights to cultural identity are beyond this article, it is sufficient for our purposes to note that in international law the assimilative practices of residential schools may best be understood as an attack on self-determination rather than on culture alone.” Page 22

“That is, while a distinctive identity or culture may be seen as justifying a claim of self-determination, and identities may in turn be valued because they are seen as the result of the efforts of Indigenous polities to express their collective selves, neither are natural starting points, and both have been shaped in response to outside - often hostile - forces.” Page 22
“Understanding the harm of residential schools in this holistic, historical, and dialectical sense helps us widen the lens so as to point the finger of responsibility, not simply at an anachronous government policy but also at the very concept of modem, state-based sovereignty that would permit - as constitutionally valid - a like degree of control over Indigenous peoples.” Page 22

Source: MacDonald, Moira. “Six Indigenous scholars share their views of Canada at 150.” University Affairs. June 7th, 2017. Retrieved from:

Abstract: This article discusses the 150th year celebration of the founding of the Canadian state. It suggests that Canadians use this celebration as an opportunity to reflection on the nation’s past, both accomplishments and failures. Within this article six prominent Indigenous scholars offer their opinion on what a “reconciled Canada” would entail.

Janet Smylie: Associate professor at Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto and holder of the CIHR Applied Public Health Chair in Indigenous health knowledge and information. Smylie is Metis, with kin ties to Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“Universities would partner with Indigenous communities and organizations to help create Indigenous-led centres of learning and training, where at least 50 percent of the curriculum would be based on Indigenous ways of knowing and doing, and Indigenous languages would flourish among the children, but adults would also have access to language recovery programs that would be designed for their learning style and busy schedules.”

Source: Maracle, L. My Conversations with Canadians. Toronto: BookThug, 2017.

“Indigenous people are entitled to learn from within our culture. That means if a language is to be privileged, it ought to be one of ours.” (p. 48)

Contemporary Stó:lō Voices Through Recent Interviews:

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Arlene Proska (Leq’á:mel First Nation)  

Who can I go to, who can I go to and say that I have no language? I grew up with no language because of what you did. How are you going to fix that? My mother left me when I was eight years old because she went to a residential school. I grew up without a mother, how are going to fix that? How can you fix that? She didn’t teach me her language and she left. Who do you go to and say, “You know residential school kids were sexually abused, physically abused, and emotional abused, and spiritually neglected. Their Stó:lō spirits were neglected. So now they’re compensated. What about those children that don’t know their languages? [18:06-19:02]

Bobbi Peters (Chawathil First Nation) 

“...reconciliation to me would be the fluency of our Halq’eméylem language. Is that possible? I don’t know but I can definitely hope we can get that back.” [32:01- 32:35]

David Gutierrez (Chawathil First Nation) 

“S'ólh Téméxw, that’s what my mum would always say, ‘our land’, so when the elders would use the language, that’s where I’d like to see the monies go towards, is to bringing back our language and our understanding of our connection to this land. That’s what I’d like to see.” [7:47-8:11]

Eddie Gardner (Skwah First Nation) 

“But our language is threatened right now to go extinct. And we’re rising to the occasion to make sure it doesn’t. There’s a lot of wealth in our language, a lot of wealth. That’s why it’s so important for us to learn our language. But when we learn our language, part of what reconciliation looks like is that we can speak our language with other people, like you guys. Learn Halq'eméylem. The people in our territory here, other people learn the language and speak it with us then that would be a beautiful way to look at reconciliation.” [01:12:32]   

Naxaxalhts’i Albert “Sonny” McHalsie (Shxw'ow'hamel First Nation) 

“Everywhere there should be language. You can see some of it in our buildings but it shouldn’t just be in our buildings and there’s a whole lot more that could be in our buildings... but again, it’s all funding... There’s been some things that have been done, like Ron Denman from the Chilliwack Museum. He secured some money and looked into some of the settler’s names but also was interested in Halq’eméylem names.”

Naxaxalhts’i Albert “Sonny” McHalsie (Shxw'ow'hamel First Nation) 

“Well, whose using Halq’eméylem? We’re still learning Halq’eméylem, we’re still teaching ourselves Halq’eméylem, and those names are important to us. Once people find out that there’s a name for a mountain and find out what the significance of that name is then it’s important. So, I think the whole process that B.C. government has for names, I think it has to make room for ours... I think our place names should be out there and... that would help people understand the rich and cultural heritage that we have here because they don’t see it on the land. They see Chilliwack but how many people realise that comes from the word Ts’elxwéyeqw...?”

Lisa Davidson

“For the future... they get Halq’eméylem ages 3,4,5 [at Chilliwack Landing Preschool], you get a little bit in elementary school but as soon as you leave elementary school there’s nothing... Offering that as a language would be cool if they could do that. You know, they learn so much more when they’re really young and if they continue instead of waiting to take it as an elective when they get to university, there would be a way to just build on what they’ve already learned.” [14:36 – 16:30]

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