Danica Shaw

Urban Haíɫzaqvḷa Instructor

“Yáu w̓áw̓áxvtus! Danikaxƛanúgva du Haíɫzaqvnúgva. Melaniexƛa qs h̓búkvá du Donnaxλa qs ǧáǧṃ́a. Gvúkvḷánúgva la tx̌s Cámis.

Hello relatives! The name I bare is Danika and I am Haíɫzaqv. The name my mother bares is Melanie and the name my grandmother bares is Donna. I live in present-day Vancouver. I’m the new Urban Haíɫzaqvḷa Program (UHLAP) Instructor and I’ve been learning our language for the past 2 years. Prior to enrolling at UBC, I graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor’s in French and a minor in Theatre. Now, I’m currently enrolled in the First Nations and Endangered Languages Program and my goal is to help facilitate the dissipation of our ancestral knowledge that is rightfully ours back into the hands of our community members. I was inspired by Jessie Little Doe Baird of the Wampanoag Nation, who was courageous enough to find a way to re-awaken her own sleeping language. In an interview I heard of hers, she described this vivid dream of her ancestors trying to communicate with her. It finally clicked that they could not understand her because her community could not speak the language ; they spoke a foreign tongue. And in that moment, so many little moments in my life clicked and I knew what I had to do. Since then, I’ve put my full strength and energy into learning everything I can about not only our ancestral tongue, Haíɫzaqvḷa, but also the linguistics aspect that runs alongside it. I love language and hope to inspire others to feel that love as well. When I’m not doing language work, I can be found somewhere outside lost in the mountains, usually hiking and/or paddle boarding with my fur-child, Harley!

The program itself is designed with our Urban members in-mind – no matter where on this big, beautiful Earth you live. You can access any and all UHLAP classes via zoom so no one is excluded.  It is every Haíɫzaqv’s right to have access to learning our beautiful language and thus want to ensure no one is excluded who wishes to learn. We do have one in-person community class meeting on Sunday’s that are also zoom accessible to help foster in-person language learning and community. Our class is a safe space filled with community love not only for one another, but for the language our gálágiwa (ancestors) left for us as well. I am a firm believer that the words of our gálágiwa can heal not only the land around us, but ourselves as well. Everytime we gather, we are decolonizing our minds and opening them up to view and understand the world around us the way our ancestors looked at this land. It is a space where we can laugh, cry, and make silly mistakes. It is flexible and understanding – meaning we understand life happens and will support you through those blessings and obstacles until you are able to return. We’re on this journey together : asking questions to make us all think bigger and encouraging each other as little pieces begin to click slowly, but surely. If you’ve been wanting to find a way to connect to community but live too far from home, this is the class for you! You’ll regain that community connection through our weekly meetings, and develop a more profound and direct connection with our gálágiwa who watch over us as we try our best to navigate this crazy, evolving world of ours.

I love this class and all the laughs and deeper, critical thinking it has brought into my life. I hope to see you in class soon so we can expand our learning and healing community together. If you’re interested in learning more, please join our Facebook Group Here https://www.facebook.com/groups/167639953936513  where we post updates on class schedules and any other fun language activities and programs that may be coming up!


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