Last July, Language Apprentices and Elders from the Saanich First Nation held a historic visioning retreat and language boot camp on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. The purpose was three-fold: to review and celebrate the accomplishments of their 5-year-old language revitalization program (now including a pre-school language nest and an immersion kindergarten with a “nature immersion” component); to envision the future of the program five years and 25 years from now; and to carry out their first full-language-immersion bootcamp, during which all participants expressed themselves in their language only for the whole day. Terralingua was thrilled to be able to provide partial support for this milestone event as a part of our Voices of the Earth project.
The significance of the bootcamp is best described in their own words: “The … Bootcamp was the real reason we put this on and was a hope of our team for a very long time. … As such we agreed that our only objective for the day, and what became our chant, was … No English Language. … With the restrictions we put on ourselves, we had to use combinations of body language and charades, in order to communicate and check for understanding (if necessary). This event really is a testament to the determination, passion, dedication and love of the … language and all it entails and represents for our team of apprentices and to the language future of Saanich people.”
“The day was monumental in the sense that it has probably been decades, even generations, where that many people only used [our language] to communicate for a whole day. It was full of mistakes, mix-ups, and mostly humour. Hopefully this event was the first of many to come!”
We wish so too! “Jumping into” the language, without fear or embarrassment, is a sure way to breathe life into it again.
We also want to thank Jennifer Lloyd of Stowel Lake Farm, Salt Spring Island, for making that wonderful setting available for the Saanich retreat.
The admirable work of the Saanich Language Apprentices needs your support. You can help through your donations to Voices of the Earth.