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Homalco First Nation celebrates Ayajuthem language

First Nation held event in May on language revitalization project
A performer dressed as a mɛχaɬ (pronounced meh-halth), or black bear was part of the ceremony during the May 6 event. Photo Homalco First Nation

On May 6 the Homalco people gathered at the Discovery Inn in Campbell River to review the work done to date on revitalizing their traditional Ayajuthem language.

Ayajuthem is the traditional Indigenous language of the northernmost Salish First Nations of the Homalco, Klahoose, Sliammon (Tla’amin) and K’omoks. The Homalco Nation of Campbell River is in the process of developing a long-term plan to reclaim and revitalize the Ayajuthem language.

The meeting gave the community a chance to review the work done to date on the revitalization plan and celebrate the importance of the language in the history, culture and hearts of the Homalco people.

It was also a rare and exciting opportunity to hear Ayajuthem spoken. Following prayers and a welcome by host Glen Pallen and Language Coordinator Marilyn Harry, Chief Darren Blaney recounted the Homalco Creation Story and a panel shared stories of life in the traditional territory of Bute Inlet. Those in attendance enjoyed a skit and vocabulary bingo in the language with Elder Mariena Hackett. Dinner was followed by traditional drumming and dancing.

“We acknowledge the valued presence and contributions of community Elders, Homalco Chief and Council, as well as invited guests linguist John Davis of the University of California and Klahoose elder Norman Harry,” said a release from Homalco. “Organizers were pleased to note younger faces, evidence that the desire to revitalize the language is inter-generational.”

“To all who contributed to the day and support the community’s efforts to reclaim and celebrate our Ayajuthem language, we say čɛčɛhatanapešt and raise our hands in appreciation.”

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