Alumni Testimonials

Faith Sparrow-Crawford

“I am a UBC student and a Musqueam Band member. I am so thankful for the FNEL program. It has allowed me the opportunity to learn my language at home and has taught me so much about my people and myself. It has made such a big difference in my life and in my efforts to revitalize my language. It has provided me with the tools I need to strengthen endangered languages such as my own. My education would not be complete without this program.”

Cora den Hartigh

“My name is Cora and I am a settler and uninvited guest here on Musqueam territory. I grew up in the prairies, Treaty 6 territory, and am in my final year of undergraduate studies with a focus on ethnobotany at the intersection of land, body and language.

A great deal of studying ethnobotany is guided by place-based learning; that is, getting to know the land and developing a sense of place (like befriending as many plants as possible). I think one of the most powerful ways of engaging with this process of deepening a sense of place is language, something I don’t think I fully began to understand until I enrolled in the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ class with Dr ə and Elder la:li; later, an endangered language revitalization class with Dr Daisy Rosenblum; and now, with Professor Beau Dick – classes which miraculously manage to function simultaneously within an institution and within communities.

Language shapes the way we perceive and construct our realities by introducing new ways of knowing and remembering. Because of this, learning even a few words in one of the languages spoken in these territories has changed the way I relate to place and has become fundamental to my learning, understanding and relating to the world.

Personally, these language classes introduced me to a community here at UBC that I am honoured to have had the opportunity to participate in, and that have inspired and supported me in finding ways to grow beyond the academy. But far more than this, and perhaps most importantly, I believe these classes are absolutely essential components to pedagogies of decolonization. They are rare, unique and challenging opportunities that I hope you will consider.”

Jessie McLean

“It was not with excitement that I perused the course offerings for my mandatory language requirement back in September of 2013, as my history with learning languages had not been successful by that point. Then I saw that UBC offers First Nation language courses, and I thought it would be a different kind of language than those I had tried to learn previously. It wasn’t until I started taking the Musqueam language, hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ that I realized what a privilege it was to be able to learn it. It is not only a language course but a cultural experience too. The professors are kind and will help you through the learning process, from spelling and grammar to questions on history and culture. Learning hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ has challenged me to think of ideas in a different way and in a different order.

Now in my final semester, I have gained valuable friendships with a diverse group of classmates. Plus, the learning process has been really fun! I’ve got a picture of Captain Jean Luc Picard by my desk, meme style, with the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ word for “make it so” printed on it to both help me remember the word and to remind me to stop procrastinating! So if you’re considering taking a First Nations language course, all I have to say is, “ƛ̓astəxʷ čxʷ (make it so)!””

Kendall Moraski

“Through studying three distinct First Nations languages, I was fortunate to be classmates with and build relationships with community members who added to my learning experience.  I especially found the language documentation skills, the cultural/historical context, and the innovative multimedia projects that came out the classroom to be the most rewarding.”

Christine Ray

“I feel truly privileged to have learned hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓. Even though it was challenging, I never had so much fun learning a new language. I especially enjoyed working on the end of term project for which we were able to use what we learned throughout the term in creative ways that were beneficial to the community. I highly recommend any of the First Nations and Endangered Languages Program courses to anyone in any discipline.”

Audrey Yap

“I’m a BC public high school French teacher, and have benefited enormously from studying the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language though the UBC FNEL program and the Musqueam Indian Band. It has been a meaningful way of connecting with and honouring some of the oldest known residents of the Lower Mainland, and the ancestral stewards of the land upon which many Greater Vancouver schools sit.

Studying hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ has also opened up valuable Indigenous worldviews and knowledge systems, and integrating “First Peoples’ Principles of Learning” in my own classroom teaching has enhanced cultural learning experiences and language methodology for myself and my students. hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ study has most definitely been one of the most engaging and purposeful experiences of my life. I hope to become a rather proficient second-language speaker of hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ one day and continue a reciprocal relationship with the Musqueam community; gaining precious pedagogical insights while contributing to the momentum of First Nations linguistic and cultural revitalization.”