Sanyakola Project: Being Creative Together-Indigenous Language Revitalization

This project supports the resurgence and restoration of Kwakwaka̱’wakw pedagogy and methodology encoded in Kwak’wala, as well as the goals to explore the vital link between the revitalization of Kwak’wala and implementation changes, such language learning supports the restoration of holistic wellness for Kwakwaka̱’wakw.

Project Dates: May 7, 2021 – July 6, 2024
Funding Amount: $450,000
Students Hired: 4

Project Summary

This Indigenous language revitalization project consists of four sub-projects that together have the potential to significantly support the revitalization of Kwak'wala: the language of the Kwakwaka'wakw Nations. Exploring the vital link between Indigenous holistic wellness and language revitalization will be a central theme of the project. The project will rely on active community engagement, youth capacity development and an action-based, braided approach that will have the potential to provide a model for the reclamation of endangered Indigenous languages in general and may have international implications. The four sub-projects include: development of a multi-year strategic language revitalization plan, exploration of Kwakwaka'wakw pedagogy rooted in land-based settings, exploration of how immersive technologies can support the reclamation and resurgence of Indigenous, pedagogy and worldview encoded in language, and the exploration of how youth leadership and language fluency building programs are enhanced by the resurgence and infusion of Kwakwaka'wakw worldview and pedagogy.

Research Team

Sara Child
Sara Child, Lead Researcher
Sara carries the name T̓łakwama’og̱wa, she is of Kwakwaka̱’wakw, Mowachat, Tlingit, English, and Scot ancestry and is a member of the Kwakiutl Nation. Sara is a language revitalization enthusiast, instructor, researcher, curriculum developer and founder of the Hase' and Sanyakola Societies. Sara hold’s a Master’s of Education, Indigenous Language Revitalization and has been working in education for most of her life. She is passionate about Indigenous language revitalization and believes that it is central to restoring wellness and the calls to action of TRC. Sara strives to provide language learning, capacity and has created many courses for high-school and college. To date she has created all of the Kwak’wala course currently offered at NIC and in 2020, she completed the Indigenous Language Fluency Certificate (ILFC) for NIC that is now being offered for both Kwak’wala and Nuu-chah-nulth. Sara is proud to be spearheading this research with her amazing all Indigenous team that will create avenues and networks that reach beyond the boarders of Kwakwaka̱’wakw communities, cast a web of language revitalization over the entire Kwakwaka̱'wakw nation and have implications for Indigenous language revitalization beyond her community.
Keisha Everson
Keisha Everson, Researcher
Keisha Everson carries the name “La̱lx̱sa̱n Dala’og̱wa from her great-grandmother, Margaret Frank nee Wilson. Keisha is of Kwakwaka’wakw, K’omoks, Tlingit, Dutch, and English ancestry and is a member of the K’omoks First Nation. In September 2019, Keisha began co-teaching the Kwak’wala KWA-096 and KWA-097 courses at North Island College; teaching adults has been a powerful learning experience. Keisha is also in the final months of a Masters’ of Education in Indigenous Language Revitalization from the University of Victoria.
Caroline Running Wolf, Researcher
Thomas Child, Researcher
Ferrin Willie, Researcher
Shawn Tsosie, Researcher
Anitsala Colette Child, Researcher
Anit̓sała Colette Child works for the Hase language nest and Sanyakola Foundation. Colette is the Project Coordinator for this research. Colette is of mixed decent including French Canadian, Scot, and Kwagu'ł. She is the great granddaughter of the late Chief Tommy Hunt and Emma Hunt. Her mother is Sara Child and her father is Marc Morin. Colette is a mother of two; Joey and Aurora. She obtained her Certificate in Language Revitalization through the University of Victoria, and has dedicated her time and energy to work in language revitalization since graduating high school in 2010. Colette currently runs the Hase' language nest and is the coordinator of language programs for Sanyakola. She is also registered in the ILFC program. Colette is excited about this research and looking forward to being a part of the work as we branch off into new and exciting research building STT and exploring land-based language. Colette has a particular interested in bringing Kwak’wala back into homes and intergenerational setting throughout her community.
Jennette Child, Researcher
Ya’aład, Jennette Child is mixed blood Ḵwaguł raised in ‘Yalis and Tsaxis. Jennette has a keen interest in language learning, revitalization and youth leadership. She completed her Bachelor of Child and Youth through the University of Victoria and has been actively involved in youth leadership, camp training and canoe journey. Jennette has a deep knowledge of trauma and the effects of trauma on the human spirit. She is dedicated to learning Kwakwaka̱’wakw culture and the healing practices to support the process of becoming whole again. Jennette works for Sanyakola Foundation as the Awi’nakola Youth Leadership Camp director. Her interests and experience include trauma informed practice, harm reduction and restoration of Kwakwaka̱’wakw healing and wellness practices in land based, culturally infused settings. Jennette is enrolled in the ILFC at NIC and just finished a program with Rhodes Wellness College where she received a Life Skills Coach and Wellness Counsellor Diploma in February 2021.
Ema Sheena
Ema Sheena, Researcher
Tłi'anis, Ema Sheena, Tłi’anis is Kwagu'ł, Laxwalis, Mowachat, English and Scot and is a member of the Kwakiutl Nation. Ema is from the Hunt, Child and Sheena families. Ema obtained her Bachelor of Education: Indigenous Language Revitalization from the University of Victoria and has been working as the language and culture teacher at Wag̱alus School since 2011. Ema is a mother of two and a happy member of a huge family of language and culture warriors. Language is Ema’s life and she is excited to be a part of this amazing project that is bringing together a wonderful team to support our work. Ema believes that one of the most important aspects of this work is our goal to take our learning back onto the land and sea. Ema works directly with the Sanyakola Foundation and believes laughter like language is good medicine.


News Stories and Coverage

1. CBC:

2. Mitacs Webinar:

3. Chek News:

4. Windspeaker:

5. The Star:

6. Times Colonist: Learning Indigenous languages by using them outside the classroom in daily life

7. North Island Gazette:  Research team is revitalizing Indigenous language with a first-of-its-kind blueprint

8. Global News: Researchers in B.C. could help save one of the world’s most complex Indigenous languages