NIȽ TU,O: in the beginning – NIȽ TU,O Launches New Online Learning Resource To Aid In Coast Salish Language Preservation

by Katharina Stocker | photos courtesy NIȽ TU,O Child & Family Services – 

A new section on the NIȽ TU,O website now provides an easy-to-use resource to learn basic Coast Salish words and phrases.

Language is the foundation of Coast Salish culture; containing aspects of worldview, values, stories, history and teachings. As such, this new addition to the NIȽ TU,O website provides an important language revitalization asset. Located under the Resource section of the website, the Speak page is an online language learning resource where site visitors can find introductory lessons of SENĆOŦEN, Hul’q’umi’num’, and lək̓ʷəŋən – three of the Straits Salish dialects spoken in and around the Saanich Peninsula.

The page includes short audio recordings of commonly used phrases and words over a variety of categories: mountain animals, colours, counting, months, daily phrases, and moons. Upon clicking the desired category, website visitors will see a list of recordings to explore. For example, the “Daily Phrases and Greetings” category teaches visitors to say phrases such as “thank you respected one,” and “we are one.”

Two language holders are featured in the recordings, vocalizing the words so users can listen to them being spoken by different voices. The two language holders bring their individual perspectives to the recordings, as one is an experienced female speaker and the second is a less experienced male. To ensure the page is beneficial to users of all learning styles, the recordings are accompanied by images and the words spelled using each dialect’s specific orthography to demonstrate how the words are written and properly spelled.

The online nature of this resource ensures endangered languages like SENĆOŦEN, Hul’q’umi’num’ and lək̓ʷəŋən are being appropriately preserved, digitized and made accessible 24/7.

The new Speak page is just another way NIȽ TU,O works to provide culturally appropriate support for Coast Salish children and families. In addition to serving as a rich cultural resource in its own right, NIȽ TU,O has woven this exciting new language resource into several other initiatives that support the Coast Salish community. For example, the recently released Culture and Care Daily Planner – a NIȽ TU,O project that provides a hands-on way for young adults to practice self-care through the lens of tradition – is sprinkled with QR codes that lead the viewer directly to the new online Speak page. When a youth scans one of the QR codes, it will lead to a page that provides the opportunity to both read and listen to SENĆOŦEN, Hul’q’umi’num’, or lək̓ʷəŋən.

Further, the words and phrases spoken in the speak section are being featured as short videos in a series on the NIȽ TU,O Tiktok, YouTube and Instagram channels.

To stay up to date on this initiative and others, follow NIȽ TU,O on social media at @niltuocfss, or visit to sign up for the newsletter.

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