Author: Leighton-Stephens, Debbie
Abstract For Indigenous communities everywhere, the passing of valued Knowledge Holders is resulting in the loss of history, language and culture on a daily basis. This is the case for our Ts'msyen Nation. In our Ts'msyen territories on the Northwest Coast of British Columbia, our Sm'algyax language is taught in three of our surrounding Ts'msyen community schools and in all the schools within the Prince Rupert School District (SD #52) through the Indigenous Education Department. Over the last ten years, we have lost many of our program's Ts'msyen Knowledge Holders and team-teachers. It is therefore a critical time to support the learning of our younger Sm'algyax team members, who work with our Sm'algyax program. Our Ts'msyen language strongly connects us to our territory, to each other, and to our environment − plants, animals, lands and waterways. The foundational teachings of who we are as Ts'msyen Peoples are embedded in our Sm'algyax language and in our traditional Ts'msyen adaawx (traditional narratives), as well as in the lived experience of our Ts'msyen Knowledge Holders. The purpose of this Ts'msyen inquiry was to bring our Sm'algyax language team together with our Ts'msyen Knowledge Holders to develop a relationship with and an understanding of selected Ts'msyen adaawx (traditional narratives), in the hope of developing the team's understanding of our Ts'msyen history, language and culture. We drew on the knowledge embedded in our traditional Ts'msyen adaawx and our Sm'algyax language as well as from the lived experience of our knowledge Holders. We used our "Wila Loom Ts'msyen" (Ts'msyen ways of being) to guide our theoretical inquiry and methodological process. I drew on the processes and protocols of our Ts'msyen Feast planning process and ceremony to guide and frame our learning journey. It was critical that we followed our Ts'msyen protocols while working with our traditional knowledge. Throughout our adaawx inquiry we identified key Ts'msyen pedagogical principles of teaching and learning. We are confident that the teachings embedded in our Ts'msyen adaawx and in our Sm'algyax language, as well as in the teachings shared by our Knowledge Holders, are critical to knowing who we are and where we come from as Ts'msyen. We believe that these teachings will serve as the foundation of our Sm'algyax program.
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Thesis advisor: Kelly, Vicki
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