Syilx language program comes to West Kelowna

The course was first offered in Penticton

This is their first time teaching together and things are looking up.

Co-teachers Michele Johnson and Krista Lindley are bringing a program that teaches Syilx to the Westbank First Nation.

Johnson first started teaching the course in Penticton. Lindley was one of her former students.

Because this is the first time she’s offering the course in West Kelowna, Johnson thought there would only be a handful of people signing up, saying the original plan was to teach Syilx in her living room.

But 25 people ended up registering, so they rushed to find a bigger space in time for this week’s start.

Lindley found a room at Westbank First Nation’s Youth Building.

As for the thought of a bigger class, both Johnson and Lindley called it intimidating.

“It’s scary but good. It’s exciting to realize that there are so many people interested in learning (Syilx),” Lindley said.

“We had a core group of two or three people that we knew (were interested)…I ordered some chairs, I ordered 12 textbooks and 25 people signed up. And I just can’t fit 25 people in my home,” Johnson added.

Johnson said the program is open to anyone who may be interested.

She said they’re hoping more people from non-Indigenous communities come to learn Syilx.

“We’re making it wide open. We have plenty of space now. We have a linguist coming, a few teachers from the Sensisyusten Band School are coming that are non-Indigenous,” Johnson said.

“We welcome the spouses, family members and friends (of current students). We welcome everyone.

“This is a totally inclusive wrap-around program based on kindness and inclusivity.”

The first level of the program will be taught for four months. Classes are on Mondays and Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m.

The textbook, which includes lessons and exercises, as well as audio recordings is available online.

READ MORE: Google Earth features B.C. Indigenous language in new audio series

READ: 60 per cent of all Canadian Indigenous languages are in B.C.


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