Audrey Eugene is brainstorming about how to help the future generation of Shuswap First Nation keep the ancient Secwepemc language alive.
She is researching how to preserve the culture of the nations 17 bands, which exclusively reside within the south-central corridor of B.C., by providing opportunities for community members and non-members to learn the Secwepemc language, culture and history this winter.
I think preserving the language is really important because it will instill pride and self-esteem within our community members because they will understand their language, which goes hand in hand with learning the culture, said Ms. Eugene. During the language classes, well be teaching legends that teach the morals of our ancestors. Legends are great to teach from, and if I can get the class to learn even one short legend, Ive accomplished something.
Ms. Eugene, who serves the Shuswap Indian Band as the cultural and heritage co-ordinator, remains optimistic she can drum up enough interest from the community to offer language lessons during the first week of November.
Im looking for a place where I can hold language lessons with a computer and Internet access, said Ms. Eugene. Were all going to be starting on the same level.
Shuswap members Marge Eugene, 74, and Sam Paul are the only local members from Kinbasket who are fluent in the Secwepemc language.
Ms. Eugene said her father, Xavier Eugene, 80, has a basic understanding of the language from being around his wife, Marge.
Secwepemc language app
Ms. Eugene would like to ensure the community is aware of the First Peoples Cultural Councils iOS app for Secwepemc, which will help students discover words and phrases during the classes.
In late September, she will be visiting a school in Chase, B.C. to collect information about how language classes are offered there before launching a similar program in the Columbia Valley.
I want to see how the program is set up, so Id like to take parts of their course and combine it with what we need to do here because its for both the children and adults out here, she explained. We have to ensure that the adult members within the family group also know how to speak it, so they can use the language at home.
Ms. Eugene plans to ensure there are language lessons once every two weeks.
Im hoping that all of our computers, teaching materials, location and Internet access will be figured out by the end of October, so Im hoping that my first lesson will start at the beginning of November, concluded Ms. Eugene.
Anyone (Shuswap Indian Band members as well as non-members) wanting information about learning Secwepemc can contact Ms. Eugene at 250-341-3678.