Skip to main content

Intensive language study in Port Alberni, B.C. for summer FLAS fellow in Nuu-chah-nulth

A group of four people stand around a Nuu-chah-nulth langauge teacher as he speaks outside under a tree.
Nuu-chah-nulth language students in Port Alberni, B.C. Photo credit: Reuben Martinez.

October 4, 2022

Learning Nuu-chah-nulth (NCN) and visiting Port Alberni was some of the most fun I’ve had over the summer. Some highlights included: watching Dr. Charlotte Coté (now my new auntie) poke around at starfish when we visited the Broken Islands, to nature walks where we learned the names of plants and creatures in NCN, to relaxing evenings spent swimming in the Somass River and, of course, hours spent struggling to make sense of Adam Werle and the 6th year language learners. To be honest, this language immersion had me feeling lost, confused, anxious, exhausted, and in over my head. Though like any good story, it wouldn’t have the same impact if there weren’t a struggle to overcome. The feeling of success when you learn something new and progress makes it all worth it. At the end of the trip, I had an amazing sense of accomplishment. This included meeting many new friends, having improved my language ability 10-fold compared to what it was pre-trip, and of course being able to experience a place perhaps my ancestors would have visited 200 years in the past. Learning NCN was not only fun, but it has helped me connect to my own language and culture of Qʷidiččaʔa·tx̌ (Qwi-dich-chah-aht) or Makah. It’s been an awesome experience to learn the sounds of the Wakashan language tree, sounds that my ancestors made, especially as I intend to learn and share my own language in the future.

The Canadian Studies Center is a recipient of a U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships program grant. The grant provides allocations of academic year and summer fellowships to assist meritorious graduate students undergoing training in modern foreign languages and Canadian Studies. The Canadian Studies Center is extremely proud in having awarded several Fellowships in least-commonly taught Canadian Aboriginal languages including Inuktitut, Dane-zaa, Musqueam Salish, and Anishinaabemowin.