Indigenous Language Revitalization on Vancouver Island

Foundation Funding Supports Indigenous Language Revitalization

The Parksville-Qualicum Community Foundation is working to build permanent legacies that support local causes. One cause that holds deep meaning for Indigenous people of Vancouver Island is the revitalization of Indigenous languages, and one young man, Tim Masso, is championing this cause with Foundation support.

With a scholarship established by the Elm Family Foundation and facilitated through Parksville-Qualicum Foundation, Masso is close to completing his Bachelor of Education through the University of Victoria with a specialization in Indigenous language revitalization — at just 17.

The Elm Family Foundation is pleased to have recognized and supported this cause in the early years of Masso’s educational aspirations.

What began in his childhood as recognition of the power behind Indigenous healing practices and Coast Salish songs sung during his brother’s brain surgery recovery, became the foundation for Masso’s mission to save the languages of their ancestors and spread his dialect of Nuu-chah-nulth.

It has become a race against time to keep languages of their ancestors alive, as only a few fluent speakers remain in BC. Among the few that remain are elders who have knowledge of the language, but have not spoken it since they were punished as children in residential schools.

Both he and his older brother, Hjalmer Wenstob, have joined committees representing their Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, near Tofino, and advocated to all levels of government for language-revitalization funding. The brothers are collaborating to add new elements to their culture, writing modern songs in Nuu-chah-nulth so they can dance, sing, and celebrate in their own language.

Masso and Wenstob are among younger generations who are taking up the cause, learning and teaching the languages at the same time to revitalize the Indigenous languages spoken across Vancouver Island and southwestern B.C.

Learn more about how donors’ funds continue to respond to the charitable needs of the community for generations to come.

Visit CBC Radio’s afternoon show to learn about others on Vancouver Island who are striving to keep their languages thriving with fluent speakers.

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