Expand vocabulary, visit Rossland Museum’s ‘Our Living Languages’ exhibit

“If you learn our language, you learn the language of the land” - Sinixt matriarch Marilyn James

How many of us in B.C. can say “hello” in the language of the people on whose traditional territory we live, work, and play?

You might find yourself expanding your vocabulary – and appreciation for the over 30 Indigenous languages spoken in BC – after visiting the Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre to view “Our Living Languages: First Peoples’ Voices in BC.”

The Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre (RMDC) has welcomed Our Living Languages, a travelling exhibit developed by the Royal British Columbia Museum into its galleries this season.

Our Living Languages explores the rich diversity and resilience of Indigenous language within BC. Through interactive stations, video, and audio, Our Living Languages provides visitors with the opportunity to learn more about the history of disrupted languages in BC, the complexity of these languages, and the people that are working tirelessly to document and revitalize them.

In welcoming the exhibit to Sinixt tum ula?xw (territory), Sinixt Matriarch Marilyn James reminds us that dialects are an important facet in language exploration.

“When you acknowledge a language – if you say oh, it’s Interior Salish – and that’s all you know, you’d wipe out probably about 130 dialects,” said James.

Visitors to this exhibit will not hear the unique Sinixt dialect – Sn-selxcin, but the Museum’s sinixt display now includes oral stories as read by Marilyn James and Taress Alexis.

James and her cohort in Blood of Life Collective are actively working on dialect revitalization.

“If you learn our language, you learn the language of the land, you learn the language of all the things on the land,” added James. “It’s time everyone came to a good relationship (to Sinixt tum ula?xw). Learning these things (Sn-selxcin dialect) is how to take a step in that direction.”

The RMDC supports the ongoing Sinixt dialect revitalization project and is honoured to be one of the future repositories of some of the tangible outcomes of their work, particularly a digital (geolive) and print traditional names map.

The museum also acknowledges that this is part of their responsibility as it operates on unceded Sinixt tum ula?xw, and they continue to expand their knowledge and assist in the efforts to expand local knowledge of the Sinixt peoples.

Our Living Languages is a co-production of the Royal BC Museum and the First Peoples’ Cultural Council, a Crown Corporation with a mandate to support the revitalization of First Nations languages, arts and cultures in British Columbia.

The exhibition was developed with the assistance of the Language Exhibition Advisory Committee, comprised of cultural experts from First Nations communities across the province.

This amazing travelling exhibition is open to the public in the JD McDonald Hall through May 2021.

The RMDC is open year-round Tuesdays to Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Royal BC Museum has developed extensive, supplementary learning outcomes to develop curriculum-based school tour opportunities, which will resume as soon as public health orders allow. The RMDC’s annual travelling exhibition program is supported in part by the community members of the Nelson & District Credit Union, the Province of British Columbia, and the Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives program.

About the Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre

The Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre aims to preserve and dynamically present the heritage of Rossland and area. We are the visitor gateway to the Kootenays and the Columbia Basin, and we inspire and engage the public through virtual and real-life displays that bring our history to life.

The Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre acknowledges that we live and work on unceded Sinixt tum ula?xw.

About the Royal BC Museum

The Royal BC Museum explores the province’s human history and natural history, advances new knowledge and understanding of BC, and provides a dynamic forum for discussion and a place for reflection. The museum and archives celebrate culture and history, telling the stories of BC in ways that enlighten, stimulate and inspire. Located in Victoria on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen (Songhees and Xwsepsum Nations), we are a hub of community connections in BC–onsite, offsite and online–taking pride in our collective histories.

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