Reviving a Lost Language of Canada Through Film

June 11, 2017

By: Catherine Porter | New York TimesRead the full article

[...] Like 150,000 indigenous children across Canada, Ms. Jones was sent far from home to a residential school to be forcibly assimilated into Western culture. There, any trappings of her native culture were strictly forbidden. When a teacher caught Ms. Jones learning another indigenous language from two schoolmates, Ms. Jones said, the teacher yanked out three fingernails.

It worked: Ms. Jones spoke nothing but English, until recently, when she began learning her lines in the country’s first Haida-language feature film, “Edge of the Knife.”

With an entirely Haida cast, and a script written in a largely forgotten language, the film reflects a resurgence of indigenous art and culture taking place across Canada. It is spurred in part by efforts at reconciliation for the horrors suffered at those government-funded residential schools, the last of which closed only in 1996. [...]