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Nuxalk Nation puts up stop signs in traditional language

British Columbia

The Nuxalk Nation, near Bella Coola, B.C., is using stop signs to promote their traditional language.

The First Nation has purchased 37 new stop signs, with more on the way

CBC News ·

Community members pose with the new Nuxalk stop sign. The First Nation has purchased 37 signs depicting the Nuxalk word for stop: tsayalhx.  (Submitted by Kirsten Milton)

The Nuxalk Nation, near Bella Coola, B.C., is installing stop signs in the Nuxalk language as a way to promote their traditional language.

Evangeline Hanuse, the language enthusiast who helped spearhead the effort, says she was inspired by other First Nations communities in B.C. that have installed their own signs.

“It’s just a small idea but  … it’s one easy way that you can learn one word that doesn’t need to be translated,” Hanuse said.

The First Nation has purchased 37 signs with the Nuxalk word for stop: tsayalhx. 

Clyde Tallio, left, and Evangeline Hanuse pose with a new stop sign. (Submitted by Kristen Milton)

Indigenous languages like Nuxalk were actively suppressed by the Canadian government through the residential school system, where many children were punished for speaking their own language

Hanuse’s grandmother is one of only five Nuxalk elders who can speak the language with ease.

Hanuse is trying to learn as much of the language as she can, but says it can be challenging given how few people speak it.

“Whenever [my grandmother] speaks I try to hang on to the words she’s speaking,” she says.

She says she hopes the stop sign project will normalize and revitalize the language, and inspire other projects that make the language more visible in the community. 

“Now that we are going to see those stop signs everywhere it will be easier and easier I think for people to start incorporating that word,” she said.

Listen to the segment on Daybreak North here:

The Nuxalk First Nation, who live near Bella Coola, B.C., are using stop signs to promote their traditional language. 5:06

With files from Daybreak North

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