Indigenous Languages and Cultures Beyond Borders

The Indigenous Languages and Cultures Beyond Borders symposium is a space for dialogue between local and  international Indigenous activists and scholars, regarding common experiences of cultural and language shift,  as well as efforts towards revitalization and decolonization. This event brings together guest speakers from various Indigenous nations of Turtle Island, coming from Mexico, Brazil, the USA, and British Columbia.

 It seeks to create meaningful engagement and connections between the KPU community and local and international Indigenous communities.

When: January 22-23, 2024
Where: KPU Surrey - Cedar 1205
Who:  KPU Students and Faculty, as well as the general public

Livestream Links

Day 1

Day 2

Event Schedule

Monday, January 22ndTuesday, January 23rd
9:00am to 9:45am
9:00am to 9:45am
Registration and breakfast
10:00: to 10:15am
Opening ceremony
Elder in Residence: Lekeyten

9:45am to 12:00pm 
Panel 3: Epistemic Justice and Decolonization of Academic Knowledge

  • Shelly Mukwa Musayett Johnson
  • Mandy Jimmie
  • Miguel Figueroa
  • Jacinta Toribio Torres

Moderator: TBD

10:15am to 10:30am
Opening comments and Welcoming
Provost and Vice President of Academics Diane Purvey
12:00pm to 1:00pm 
10:30am to 11:00am
Keynote address: Commissioner Ronald Ignace

1:00pm to 2:30pm
Round Table Discussion: Research, Languages and Indigenous Principles of Ownership, Control, Access and Possession (OCAP)

Facilitated by Dr. Cheyanne Desnomie (Peepeekisis Cree First Nation) from the First 
Nations University of Canada Research Office. 
- All are welcome to join and bring their questions and comments.

Moderator: Seema Ahluwalia

11:00am to 12:00pm
Audiovisual presentation of languages present
2:30pm to 3:00pm
12:00pm to 1:00pm 

3:00pm to 5:00pm
Panel 4: Land as Pedagogy: Regenerating Language through connection to the Land

  • Paula James
  • Fernanda Kaingang
  • Rafael Nava

Moderator: Seema Ahluwalia

1:00pm to 3:30pm  
Panel 1: Language and Education

  • Fern Gabriel 
  • Marney Point
  • Christine Sy Waaseyaa’sin
  • Daisy Lorenzo Bernal

Moderator: Carlos Sandoval

5:00pm to 5:30pm
Closing remarks: Organizing Committee
3:30pm to 4:00pm 

4:00 pm to 6:00pm 
Panel 2: Language, Sovereignty and Self-Determination

  • Ray Taken Alive
  • Charles Walker
  • Carl Boneshirt, Sr.
  • Seema Ahluwalia

Moderator: TBD

6:00pm to 7:00pm 
Traditional Nahuatl dance by Casa Meshico

Keynote Speaker

Ronald E. Ignace 

Stsmélqen, a Ronald E. Ignace, is a member of the Secwepemc Nation in Interior British Columbia. He was the elected chief of the Skeetchestn Indian Band for more than 30 years since the early 1980s. He also served as Chairman of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council and president of its cultural society, where he initiated a broad program of research and reclamation on Secwepemc language and culture, including an innovative university partnership with Simon Fraser University (SFU).

He holds a B.A. and M.A. in Sociology from the University of British Columbia, and completed his PhD in Anthropology at SFU in 2008, with a dissertation on Secwepemc oral history. He has (co-)written numerous articles and book chapters on Secwepemc history, ethnobotany, language and culture, including the epic Secwepemc People, Land and Laws: Yerí7 re stsq̓ey̓s-kucw, a journey through 10,000 years of Secwepemc history.

From 2003-2005, he chaired the Ministerial Task Force on Aboriginal Languages and Cultures, and from 2016-2021, cochaired the Assembly of First Nations’ Chiefs Committee on Languages, where he played an instrumental role in the development of Bill C-91, the Indigenous Languages Act.

Raised by his great-grandparents Sulyen and Edward Eneas, and despite being taken to Kamloops Indian Residential School for several years in his childhood, Ron is a fluent speaker of Secwepemctsin and has more than sixty years of practical experience in Secwepemc traditional skills on the land. With his wife Marianne Ignace, he was awarded the Governor General‘s Award for Innovation in 2019, for their decades of collaborative research involving Indigenous people and communities.

Local Guest Speakers

Fern Gabriel

Kwantlen First Nation

Fern Gabriel — Sesmelot learned the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language from the Musqueam Nation. This language is spoken by the Down River peoples of the Fraser Valley, including the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, Kwikwetlem, Tsawwassen, Katzie, and Kwantlen Nations. Fern will share her story of language revitalization efforts in the Kwantlen First Nation

Shelley Johnson (Mukwa Musayett)

Keeseekoose First Nation

Mukwa Musayett is Saulteaux / Ojibway from Keeseekoose First Nation in Treaty 4 territory (present day Saskatchewan, Canada). She is a visitor on the unceded and occupied territory of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc in Kamloops, BC at Thompson Rivers University (TRU). She is a national Canada Research Chair in Indigenizing Higher Education and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education and Social Work. Her research is in the areas of Indigenous cultural revitalization, child well-being, justice and union-based approaches to Indigenization, reconciliation and decolonization in Canadian and Indigenous post-secondary institutions. Since 2012 she’s been a full-time faculty member at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver) and TRU. Prior to entering academia, Mukwa Musayett worked for 17 years in the area of child and family wellbeing as a social worker, manager and Executive Director of a delegated Indigenous agency and the provincial BC government. During this time, she also taught courses at the University of Victoria, and the College of New Caledonia. She is a mother of five through birth, adoption and a blended family, and a grandmother to one

Paula James (XBáʔx̌ celtiltenot)

Katzie First Nation

Xmáʔxceltiltenot ̌ , is Paula’s traditional name, which comes from her Great Grandfather of Katzie. Paula is a respected Katzie First nation’s woman who has been a moving force in initiating, facilitating and producing Katzie dialect language and cultural curriculum. She is the daughter of Grand Chief Peter James and Donna. Paula is a School District #36, (Surrey) Senior Indigenous Language and Cultural Facilitator, ni:s statəl’stəms tə xʷəxʷíl’məxʷ. Paula is very active in her traditional culture and is a knowledge keeper who helps to ensure cultural continuity and integrity. Her favourite way to spend time is in front of the Salish loom weaving traditional blankets and working with the cedar bark.

Mandy Jimmie

Nłeʔkepmx Language

Mandy Na’zinek Jimmie is an Nłeʔkepmx language advocate and an Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) – Okanagan Campus since 2022. She has taught Nłeʔkepmx Language since ̣1994 at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT), an Indigenous college that began in 1983, after she completed her Master of Arts in Linguistics at UBC. For the last several years she was involved in the development of the Nłeʔkepmx Language Fluency Degree (NLFD) Program. She currently is teaching 3rd years courses in the program and providing support to the NVIT-NLF certificate and diploma program.

Marny Point

Musqueam First Nation

Marny is from the Musqueam band, of the Coast Salish people. She earned both her degrees: A Bachelor of Education & Master of Educational Technology and is currently a Ph.D. student in LLED at UBC. Marny is the Program Coordinator and Instructor for NITEP UBC’s Indigenous Bachelor of Education cohort, teaching the introductory Indigenous education courses, as well as the UBC/Musqueam Language Committee and First Nation’s Endangered Language Program Instructor, teaching the traditional Musqueam language course, hən̓q̓ əmin̓ əm̓ from 2002 until 2019. She understands how the connection to Indigenous languages; gives value, honour and a sense of identity, which cements Native Indigenous, people in place and culture. Marny is an avid fisherwoman – owning and operating her own gillnetter. Harvesting sockeye salmon from the Fraser River, as her dad and grandfather always did. Marny is actively involved in the education of the Indigenous youth and sits on many committees to ensure the betterment of Indigenous education

Waaseyaa’sin Christine Sy

Anishinaabe Language

An adult language learner for most of her adult years, Christine has a B.A. in Anishinaabemowin but was first exposed to learning her mother’s tongue at Language Tables in urban Anishinaabe community settings. She has been so lucky to be able to find communities of Anishinaabeg wherever she lives who are dedicated to gathering around language learning even where she lives today in ləkʷa əŋən peoples territory (Victoria, BC). She is a poet, mother, human to a cat, and Associate Professor in Gender Studies at the University of Victoria where she teaches and researches in the area of Indigenous Gender Studies

International Guest Speakers

Daisy Bernal Lorenzo

Mexico: Zapotec Language

Daisy Bernal Lorenzo is a Zapotec scholar from the Southern Region of Veracruz, Mexico. She has a doctorate degree in Language Sciences and a master’s degree in Intercultural Education, by the University of Veracruz. She was a member of the Language Department within the Program of Intercultural Engagement at the UVIntercultural. She was the coordinator of the area of Linguistic Normalization within this same institution during the period from 2014 to 2017. She is currently an Associate Professor and Research Coordinator at the UV. She collaborates in the Maestriah ipan Totlahtol iwan Tonemilis (Master Program in Nahuatl Language and Culture), and in the PhD Program on Applied Linguistics and Language Science in the Faculty of Languages at the UV. She has worked in the design of research projects in Indigenous Languages of Veracruz. Her research area includes Language Policies and Practices. She is a member of the academic body “Revitalization and Continuation of Indigenous Peoples’ Languages and Cultures”

Jacinta Toribio Torres

Mexico: Nahuatl Language

Jacinta Toribio Torres is a native speaker of the Nahuatl language of the Huasteca region in Veracruz. She is originally from the community of Tepenahuac, Chicontepec in Veracruz. She is currently an assistant professor at the Intercultural University of Veracruz, in the Huasteca region. She coordinates the area of Community Engagement in the UVI Huasteca. She has a doctorate degree in History and Regional Studies by the University of Veracruz and masters degree in History by the San Luis College. Her area of expertise includes the study of changes in land tenure among the Indigenous communities of Chicontepec and Ixhuatlan de Madero in the 19th and 20th century. She has also worked in language and cultural revitalization among the Indigenous peoples of Ixhuatlan de Madero in Veracruz.

Rafael Nava Vite

Mexico: Nahuatl Language

Rafael Nava Vite is an Indigenous scholar, native speaker of the Nahuatl language. His basic academic training includes an undergrad degree in Sociology by the University of Veracruz, as well as graduate studies in the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH). He has been the Regional Coordinator of the Huasteca and Great Mountain campus of the Intercultural University of Veracruz. He has also been the president of the Mexican Language Archive Network (RALMEX). He is currently the Coordinator of the Area of Linguistic Normalization and Coordinator of the Master Program in Nahuatl Language and Culture at the University of Veracruz. Since 2020, he has been coordinating the Academic Body “Revitalization and Continuation of Indigenous Peoples’ Languages and Cultures”. He has extensive experience teaching courses of Indigenous Languages and Cultures, and has participated in numerous forums on this topic. His most recent book is called “Toapah Wahki: The Land is not Moist Anymore”, published with the support of the Cultural Development Program from the Huasteca Region.

Miguel Figueroa Saavedra

Mexico: Nahuatl Language

Doctor in Social Anthropology; Researcher affiliated to the Institute of Research in Education at the University of Veracruz. Team Lead for the Academic Body of Intercultural Studies (UV-CA-236) and professor in the Maestriah ipan Totlahtol iwan Tonemilis (Master Program in Nahuatl Language and Culture). His area of expertise includes Nahuatl Language, History and Culture, Language Planning and Linguistic Normalization of National Languages in Higher Education, Sociolinguistics, Linguistic Historiography and Intercultural Education.

Fernanda Kaingáng

Brazil: Kaingang Language

Lucia Fernanda Inácio Belfort Sales belongs to the Kaingáng Indigenous people in the South of Brazil. Her name in Kaingáng is Jófej, but the notary office refused to register the Indigenous name. Lucia Fernanda Kaingáng is an art educator at the Ponto de Cultura Kanhgág Jãre - Raiz Kaingáng. She is a lawyer with a master's degree in traditional knowledge and genetic resources, and has been an environmentalist, a defender of indigenous peoples' human rights for 23 years. Fernanda is pursuing her doctorate on cultural heritage and intellectual property at the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Fernanda Kaingáng was advisor to the president of the National Foundation of Indigenous Peoples (Funai), an organ of the Brazilian federal government, and is a founding member of the Kaingáng Institute (Inka) and the Brazilian Indigenous Institute for Intellectual Property (Inbrapi). She is an expert for Indigenous peoples throughout Latin America on the protection of cultural heritage, before different United Nations bodies and has followed the IGC discussion for over 15 years. Fernanda Kaingáng's doctoral thesis, published in October 2023, is entitled "Rights Denied, Heritage Stolen: Challenges for the protection of traditional knowledge, genetic resources and traditional cultural expressions of Indigenous peoples on the international stage". Fernanda Kaingáng is the first Indigenous woman to be invited by the Presidency of FUNAI to take over as director of the Indigenous Museum in Rio de Janeiro in 2023.

Ray Taken Alive

Lakota Nation

Ray Taken Alive is a Lakota Language instructor and citizen of the Standing Rock Nation. His mother is a citizen of the Mandan Hiditsa Arikara Nation and his father is a citizen of Standing Rock Nation. He comes from the Taken Alive and Helper families. Since the passing of his grandmother Delores Taken Alive, Ray and his family have been working to reclaim all rights to her Lakota language materials from the Lakota Language Consortium (LLC), a non-profit organization that was banished by the Standing Rock Nation, using the "bad man" clause of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. Ray believes that language and education are cornerstones of tribal sovereignty. He will discuss his ongoing struggle to defend his people's language rights and the attempts to bully him and silence his activism.

Carl D. Boneshirt, Sr. (Oyate Anawizipi):

Sicangu Lakota (citizen of Rosebud Sioux Indian nation)

Carl Boneshirt is a fluent Lakota speaker, ceremonialist, and a humble descendant of a line of chiefs and carriers of ceremony. A residential school survivor, veteran, and former powwow champion fancy dress dancer, Carl was called to a carry on the ceremonial work of his bloodline following the passing of his father in 1990. Carl is a staunch defender of a Lakota way of life and carries generations of oral family, community history, treaty rights, traditional pedagogy and plant medicines. He carries many anti-colonial teachings and believes that language is the sacred lifeblood of a people.

Charles Walker

Lakota (Standing Rock Nation)

Charles Walker is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council. In 2022, his nation banished the Lakota Language Consortium, a language conservancy non-profit organization, from their reservation. Charles will discuss the exercise of treaty rights as a mechanism for protecting language rights, treaty rights, and the incursion of non-Lakota people’s commercial rights as potential threats to the protection of Indigenous languages.

Registration Form

This event is sponsored by:

  • KPU Faculty of Arts 
  • Faculty of Arts Excellence & Advancement Fund
  •  President’s Diversity & Equity Committee 
  • Indigenous Leadership Office 
  • Office of the Provost 
  • Vice President External Affairs / CEO of the KPU Foundation
  •  Canada Research Chair 
  • Sociology Department 
  • History Department 
  • Language & Cultures Department
  •  Kwantlen Faculty Association