Sydney Laiss (left), curatorial assistant, and curator Anna Irwin stand in the ‘Our Living Languages’ exhibition on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. It is currently on display at the Chilliwack Museum and on loan from the Royal BC Museum. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Sydney Laiss (left), curatorial assistant, and curator Anna Irwin stand in the ‘Our Living Languages’ exhibition on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. It is currently on display at the Chilliwack Museum and on loan from the Royal BC Museum. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

History of 34 disrupted First Nations languages highlighted in exhibition at Chilliwack Museum

‘Our Living Languages’ on loan from Victoria’s Royal BC Museum until end of May

An interactive exhibition highlighting the state of Indigenous languages in British Columbia is currently on display at the Chilliwack Museum.

Our Living Languages has been produced and is on loan from the Royal BC Museum in Victoria. It’s in Chilliwack from Jan. 16 to May 24.

Through interactive stations, video and audio, Our Living Languages provides visitors with the opportunity to learn more about the history of 34 disrupted First Nations languages in B.C., the complexity of these languages, and what people and communities are doing to help their languages survive and flourish.

In the exhibition, people have the opportunity to hear the sounds of certain letters simply by pushing a button, sit in the cosy ‘Cradle of Language’ to listen to stories and lullabies, and hear peoples’ stories about their languages on videos.

“We are fortunate to have the support of community organizations and people who work each day to preserve and teach the Halq’eméylem language,” said Chilliwack Museum curator Anna Irwin. “Through the travelling exhibition, on loan from the Royal BC Museum, we hope to celebrate and draw attention to their crucial work, which will ensure Halq’eméylem continues to be spoken and used by future generations.”

RELATED: New book honours elders who first wrote down Halq’eméylem

Before coming to Chilliwack, the award-winning Our Living Languages exhibitionwas on display in Abbotsford at The Reach gallery museum.

Sydney Laiss (left), curatorial assistant, and curator Anna Irwin stand in the ‘Our Living Languages’ exhibition on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. It is currently on display at the Chilliwack Museum and on loan from the Royal BC Museum. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Sydney Laiss (left), curatorial assistant, and curator Anna Irwin stand in the ‘Our Living Languages’ exhibition on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. It is currently on display at the Chilliwack Museum and on loan from the Royal BC Museum. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

In 2015, the Royal BC Museum won the American Alliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibition Competition for Our Living Languages. The exhibition was one of only four entries – of the 37 submitted by some of the world’s most innovative and progressive museums – to receive this annual award.

“We are so thankful for the assistance and involvement of Xwá:letelòt Willow Mussell, Amber Kostuchenko, Welosiyatelemo:t Jamie Commodore, Julie Malloway, Bon Graham (b.wyse), the Stó:lō Service Agency, the Stó:lō Shxwelí Halq’eméylem Language Program, and the Coqualeetza Cultural Education Centre,” Irwin added.

Our Living Languages is at the Chilliwack Museum (45820 Spadina Ave.) from Jan. 16 to May 24, 2021. Hours are: Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (open Thursdays until 8 p.m.), and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission: $7.50 for families (up to four adults/students), $3 for adults, $2 for seniors (60+) and students (13-17), free for kids 12 and under, free for Historical Society Members.

Our Living Languages is sponsored by First Peoples’ Cultural Council and was made possible in part by the Government of Canada. Vancity helped with the travelling exhibition program.


 

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