Lheidli T'enneh elder earns masters degree

A Lheidli T'enneh elder with an deep knowledge of her aboriginal language has earned a masters degree in education.

For Janet (Jeannette) Kozak, 75, the news that her two years of effort has paid off delivered a sense of both accomplishment and relief.

article continues below

"I feel pretty proud of my self," Kozak said Monday.

"That was a lot of work."

The achievement comes on top of earning a teachers certificate in 2012 which gives her the credential to teach the Lheidli dialect of the Dakelh (Carrier) language in public schools.

Kozak earned the masters through Simon Fraser University, who sent an instructor up to Prince George for a weekend each month to work with Kozak and a group of others also studying towards the same degree.

"In between, we had a whole lot of work to do," Kozak said.

Along with the course work, where she learned about the array of teaching methods, Kozak put together a portfolio about her language and culture for her thesis.

Kozak spoke Lheidli until she was six years old when she was sent away to the Lejac residential school near Fraser Lake where pupils were strictly forbidden from speaking their native languages.

"That's all we spoke at home - my grandmother couldn't speak English," Kozak said.

"When we came home from Lejac, she said for us to speak in our language. And I said 'we can't because the government will squish our heads if we spoke,' and we believed that, when you're a little kid you believe that."

Her interest was revived about 20 years ago when a program was launched to revive the language.

She and some others were given an opportunity to earn accreditation to teach the language but, because funding came and went, it took 15 years before Kozak finally had a certificate.

Kozak also credits her mother, Mary Gouchie, 94, as a major source of knowledge.

She is one of just three others, besides Kozak, who can speak the dialect.

"We have a dying language and somebody has to save it," Kozak said.

Armed with "boxes and boxes" of laminated picture cards with the Lheidli word for each object underneath, Kozak said she continues to teach at the Lheidli T'enneh learning centre on the Shelley reserve.

"I just love it when finally the children catch on and they're speaking to one another in the class, even though they just say 'hello,' 'how are you,'" Kozak said.

"They pick that up within two weeks and within 12 weeks they're conversing with one another in different sentences that I'm putting on the board."

Read Related Topics

Comments

NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Prince George Citizen welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. Comments that contain external links will not be permitted. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus

SNC-Lavalin scandal POLL

What would you like to see happen in the wake of the SNC-Lavalin scandal?

or  view results

Sign Up For Our e-Newsletter!
  • 97/16

    Prince George's Weekly News

Popular Citizen

Community Event Calendar


Find out what's happening in your community and submit your own local events.

Lowest Gas Prices in Prince George
Prince George Gas Prices provided by GasBuddy.com