For years, Dr. M. Jane Smith’s latest book has been working on preserving and spreading the Gitxsanimx language through teaching, storytelling and publishing books.
On June 27, she released her latest book, Gitxsan Prayers a collection of prayers in both Gitxsanimx and English at the ‘Ksan Campground in Hazelton.
“The words of the Elders provide the youth with their history and identity and form the basis of their relationships with everyone and everything,” she said in an email.
Smith was raised in the village of Gitanmaax by her parents, Joe and Mary Smith. Both parents were fluent in the Gitxsan language and cultural traditions and she did not start le.
“It is my deepest and sincerest wish is that all my students, adults and children, Gitxsan and non-Gitxsan accept and go forward with the knowledge and wisdom that was given so generously to me by my Elders so that we may better understand one another,” she said.
The book, her 16th, is illustrated by Gitxsan master Carver Ken Mowatt and lovingly dedicated to her niece Shelly Mckenzie who died from cancer last August.
“It is Jane’s desire that the youth learn their language,” stated a press release. “She believes that there is power in knowing the language. She takes from the voices of the past, with all the teachings of the Elders and teaches Gitxsanimx to the adults and children in the present and wants to leave this knowledge for the children of the future.”