First Nations Languages: Reading Comprehension
Read the story and answer the questions.
Spread the Word: First Nations Languages in British Columbia
The land we now call British Columbia is home to more First Nations languages than any other part of Canada. About 32 First Nations languages are spoken here. But many of these languages are at risk. For example, there are now fewer than 10 people who can speak the language of the Skwomesh Nation. Most of the speakers are over the age of 65.
There is a young man named Khelsilem Rivers. Khelsilem is 24 years old. He has learned the Skwomesh language. He spends much of his time working to keep the Skwomesh language alive. Khelsilem lives in a house with other young people who want to speak their traditional language every day.
Why is language so important? Language is how we practice our culture. We share our stories, our songs, our history, and our teachings through language. Language is part of our identity. People in our families who were alive before us are called our ancestors. Language connects us to our ancestors. Knowing our language helps us be healthy in mind, body, and spirit.
Skwomesh is one of the aboriginal languages in British Columbia that is at risk. This means that the Skwomesh language could be lost forever. It could be lost forever because no one will ever speak Skwomesh again. Native people are now being helped by university departments to help preserve their languages. In the past, many Canadians did not respect aboriginal languages and this was wrong. Hopefully, in the future, native people like Khelsilem Rivers will keep the Skwomesh, and many other native languages alive. This will help Canada’s aboriginal peoples preserve their culture.
Story by Shantel Ivits at BC Open Textbooks
Story adapted under Creative Commons license
Adaptations and exercises by Douglas Rodger, English Language Centre
Audio version performed by Cam Culham, English Language Centre
Photo: Acwsalcta School in Bella Bella, British Columbia from Central Coast Regional District is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.