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Gitxsan Immersion Program Launching in September 2024

  • May 13, 2024
  • Aaron Callaghan

The Gitxsan Language Immersion program approved by the Board of Education at its February 2024 Regular Meeting will launch this September, beginning with the introduction of a Kindergarten class at Majagaleehl Gali Aks (MGA) Elementary School in Hazelton.

During the month of April, four community-based information sessions were held throughout the Gitxsan Laxyip (territories), and several families have subsequently expressed interest in their children's participation in the program. 

"Learning the Gitxsan language will have a positive effect on students, allowing them to feel rooted in who they are and where they come from, as well as on their health and well-being." said Monica Simms of the Gitxsan Government Commission and member of the local curriculum team. 

Gitxsan originated in T'lemlaxamit in what is now known as the upper Skeena Valley in Northwest BC where the Gitxsan still reside.  Simalgyax, the Gitxsan language, is classified by UNESCO as 'severely endangered' with only 3.5% of the population being fluent speakers, and 4.6% speaking or understanding the language somewhat.  The program being implemented at MGA has been developed by a local language team, and the school district will seek a fluent speaker to teach the class, supported by local elders and other language speakers from the community.  It is also hoped the new program will inspire family members and other community members to learn the language and grow in their appreciation of Gitxsan culture.