xwi’xwi’em’: My Hul’q’umi’num’ Storytelling Journey




Daniels, Deanna (Xway'Waat)

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University of Victoria


Indigenous languages are at risk of extinction in Canada, and also at risk are the traditional storytelling ways of our ancestors. Our First Peoples have been using oral transmission to pass on cultural knowledge about our Indigenous ways of life from generation to generation since time immemorial. Storytelling is used to teach our young people about our beliefs, values, history and relationships. This project explores how one researcher’s personal journey utilized a storywork approach to connect to her cultural identity and language by telling four of her personal stories in Hul’q’umi’num’, a Coast Salish language of British Columbia. The stories and their English translations are given in the Appendix. The researcher is not yet a speaker of her language, but she proceeded with the support and guidance of a collaborative team of Quw’utsun’ Elders and language specialists. This report details the step-by-step learning process that a person can undertake to construct stories even if they are not fluent speakers of a language. The researcher learned much about the sounds and structures of her language as well as how new stories are designed. Through this process, the research was able to share teachings, important messages, traditional knowledge and a Quw’utsun’ worldview in her own language. By telling her own stories and making them available to her community in the form of texts and movies, this project makes a contribution to the Hul’q’umi’num’ language revitalization strategy.



language revitalization, Hul’q’umi’num’, Coast Salish language, storytelling