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Dr. Onowa McIvor, a professor in the Department of Indigenous Education at the University of Victoria, wrote a list of ways communities can support the use of Indigenous language. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press) A Vancouver Island professor has created an Indigenous languages cheat-sheet to help communities in B.C. incorporate words and greetings into their vocabulary.

Learning how to say "hello" or displaying a welcome sign in the language of the local First Nation are just a few ways the author is encouraging people to get involved.

The fact sheet written by Onowa McIvor, a professor in the Department of Indigenous Education at the University of Victoria, was published by UNESCO as a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.

"To learn a greeting but also the appropriate response is a way of deepening our understanding of that language a little bit, and being able to have just a very short conversation," McIvor told On The Island host Gregor Craigie.

"A greeting and a response is a way of beginning to learn the Indigenous language of the territory that you’re in."

Within the TRC, six of the Calls to Action focus on language and culture, and McIvor saw the opportunity to provide a broad audience with ways they can actively participate in reconciliation.

She created the list of 12 suggestions to apply to individuals and those who hold professional roles like school board, trustees or small business owners, she said.

McIvor’s goal is to give people a starting point, a way to open up the conversation about a "dark chapter" in Canadian history and acknowledge the suppression of Indigenous language in residential schools.

"This is a way that we can work together to see a part of the beauty of who we are as Canadians, of the land that we stand on, of the culture and the people that were here before we became the nation that we are today," she said.

"We have to have a way to begin. We have to have a way to enter that conversation together."

With files from On The Island

To hear the full interview listen to media below:

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