video item: Willow Installation

Tr’ondek Hwech’in citizens speak on the effects of colonialism.

I enjoy learning as well as I’m teaching the language. I find that it’s very important to my identity as who I am as First Nation, as well as a community member of Dawson City.

[kids speaking Han]

It’s important that we teach others and share our language as well, so in that way, it stays alive a lot longer.

[kids speaking Han]

And it’s nice teaching with little kids cuz they’re just so engaged in the language and it’s nice. Positive.

[kids speaking Han]

It’s a really exciting time in education right now where our First Nations ways of learning and knowing are being recognized as being important.

[kids speaking Han]

The land is so diverse in this area that it fostered a beautiful culture through the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and it fostered its own language and so teaching the language in the culture in the school brings, brings it alive for me.

[kids speaking Han]

And we are so connected to the land around us that teaching the kids the language is, ah, is really hopeful for the future that the, that they will see the importance in it and they will learn the richness of this area at a level that our ancestors knew it at.

[kids speaking Han]

I was once told that the language, if we speak a language that language is always in us no matter how far or how long ago we lost it. And I was told that if you just listen and if you lift up your tongue and you just let the words flow out that your language will come back to you. And when I first heard that I thought, hmmm, and I was holding my tongue up and I was really trying to listen and I was really trying to listen and I was like well I don’t hear anything and nothing was coming to mind. And then over time, I just kind of kept listening to when I heard language, I took upon the opportunity to speak the language and then I just end up finding myself in the position of teaching Han language at the school. And it wasn’t even a year ago when I first heard that statement and I thought, well, I didn’t hear it right away but I started to hear it eventually and it did, it came to a calling. It came as a calling for me and so I thought that that was pretty neat. Yeah.

[kids speaking Han “Now can we hear it?” – laughter]

Okay, so we’ll sing the Happy Day song. The song to bring joy and happiness. Happy Day song!