Tseshaht First Nation celebrates opening of language house

Members of the Robinson family sing before the unveiling of the new Tseshaht Language House on Saturday, Sept. 21. ELENA RARDON PHOTO
Richard Lucas and Trevor Little, grandsons of Kathy Robinson, unveil the name of the language house. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Amber and Mary Robinson, great-granddaughters of Kathy Robinson, join other young dancers in a song to celebrate the opening of the Tseshaht Language House. ELENA RARDON PHOTO
Kathy Robinson (seated) is joined by members of her family. ELENA RARDON PHOTO
Trevor Little leads a song in front of the new Tseshaht Language House. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Tseshaht First Nation celebrated the grand opening of a new language house last weekend.

The language house is a space dedicated to strengthening the Tseshaht language. It is an office and workspace where language programs and projects will take place, and it also offers a comfortable and welcoming space for speakers, elders, learners and guests. It will also house language resources.

The language team is made up of Dawn Foxcroft (language coordinator), Linsey Haggard (language worker) and Grant Watts (data technician).

“This is just the beginning of something much bigger,” said Tseshaht councillor Ken Watts on Saturday. “There’s so many people that have done so much work in language, and now we keep building off that foundation.”

The ultimate goal, he added, is to build a bigger facility to focus on rebuilding the Tseshaht language.

The language house, located at 7000A Pacific Rim Hwy, has been named yaaʔałat (meaning “Everyone is watching me”) after elder Kathy Robinson.

Robinson (née Gallic) grew up in the Broken Group Islands speaking both the Tseshaht dialect and the Ditidaht language. Although she was sent to the Alberni Indian Residential School as a child, she held onto her language and her cultural roots.

For more than 18 years, she worked at Haahuupayak School, helping to develop a language curriculum. Over the years, she has worked in various language programs, translating the Nuu-chah-nulth language.

“I don’t think we can do enough to say thank you to Grandma Kath for what she’s done,” said a visibly emotional Watts on Saturday. “I have a son…he’s seven years old and he knows more words than I do. Our language is going to survive and it’s going to live on forever because of people like Grandma Kath.”


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