When Northern B.C. elementary faculty instructor, Dianna Rai, sees her college students outdoors of college, she says they by no means converse with her in English — at all times in Nisga’a.
It is no small feat. Whereas it is estimated that fewer than 5, 500 individuals converse Nisga’a in Canada, there are solely about 500 fluent audio system just like the instructor from the Nisga’a village of Laxgalts’ap within the Nass Valley.
In early October, Rai’s work with the scholars at Alvin A. McKay Elementary College was celebrated with a nationwide educating award.
The Prime Minister’s Award for Educating Excellence Certificates of Achievement has been given out to distinctive elementary and secondary faculty lecturers in all disciplines since 1994. Rai acquired it for her passionate advocacy for the Nisga’a language and tradition.
“It’s wonderful to be acknowledged,” stated Rai Monday in an interview on CBC’s Dawn South, the place she shared some Nisga’a phrases and phrases with listeners.
‘I believed everybody spoke Nisga’a’
Rai grew up with grandparents who spoke the language and stated as a baby, earlier than studying concerning the impression of residential faculties on her individuals, she had no concept the phrases she was studying have been endangered.
“I simply thought everybody spoke Nisga’a,” she stated.
In line with the federal authorities, the language is liable to extinction.
Dianna Rai, left, was awarded a Prime Minister award for excellence for her work. Rai is photographed right here with Phylis Webstad, proper, who created Orange Shirt Day to honour residential faculty survivors. (Fb/Dianna Rai)
Rai shouldn’t be solely ensuring the youngsters in her classroom study the language, however embody it.
She makes use of complete bodily response methods to assist her college students bear in mind the phrases they’re being taught.
For instance, if Rai asks her lessons to face up, they rise up, whereas additionally responding to her within the Nisga’a language.
Her college students additionally use signal language, motion, songs and efficiency — all designed to have interaction their total our bodies to assist memorize the vocabulary.
The award additionally acknowledged Rai for creating after-school language applications, educating free night highschool lessons, and inspiring younger individuals to attend native feasts and ceremonies.
Exterior the classroom
It is not simply her faculty college students benefiting from Rai’s ardour for her language and tradition.
She was additionally concerned in writing a Nisga’a language dictionary and customary Nisga’a alphabet that she makes use of to assist report and share Elders’ information.
Rai additionally volunteers with the Elders’ Council and the Language Authority and brings Elders into the college to see her college students’ progress.
The Nisga’a village of Laxgalts’ap, the place Dianna Rai teaches, is positioned on the Nass River estuary, roughly 150 kilometers north of Terrace. The inhabitants is lower than 500. (Wikipedia.com)
“Elders are moved to tears in school and village occasions to listen to kids converse and sing in Nisga’a,” reads the assertion saying her win.
Rai additionally works with two assistants on digital language video games for college students and helps these assistants change into fluent within the language themselves.
Dawn South7:31Language educator Dianna Rai was honoured with a Prime Minister award for her work in preserving and educating Nisga’a.