<em>Ikak’ila </em>means take care of yourselves. (Video still)

Ikak’ila means take care of yourselves. (Video still)

VIDEO: First Nations elders on Vancouver Island encourage COVID-19 vigilance

Hearing their voices and language reminds us who we’re keeping safe

Two teachers at a First Nations school in Port Hardy have put together a video about COVID-19 with elders from Gwa’sala and ‘Nakwaxda’xw First Nations, speaking their Gwa’sala and ‘Nak’wala dialects.

”Our communities have been really concerned about COVID-19 entering our villages. The elders had some messages they wanted to share with the community of encouragement and safe practices,” said Robin Rosborough, a pre-kindergarten teacher who created the video with Grades 2/3 teacher, Michelle Hinatsu.

The pair are also part of a language program, working with elders to record and teach Gwa’sala and ‘Nak’wala languages. It was a natural fit then, to ask the elders to speak in their first languages for the video, sharing their cultural knowledge at the same time as urging people to make the safe choice.

The elders reminded people to wash hands, wear masks, keep distanced and take care of each other.

Hearing their voices itself is a reminder of who needs to be kept safe. Hearing the language, fluent to these elders whose childhoods were spent in Smith Inlet, Takush, and Blunden Harbour, Ba’as, reminds how much there is still to learn.

“Just have patience. There’s a time coming when the virus will pass. If anything, we want to be all present and accounted for,” said hereditary chief of Nak’waxda’xw Nation, Thomas Hiłamas Henderson.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca


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