Saving native languages
By Jeff Bell, Victoria Times Colonist
September 27, 2009
John Elliott’s years of dedication to preserving aboriginal languages — including Sencoten, the language of the Saanich First Nation — has earned him an honorary PhD.
Elliott, also known by his Saanich name, Stolcel, received the recognition from Maharishi University of Management in Iowa during a major international conference called “Building Healthy, Sustainable American Indian Communities.” Native leaders from across North America are attending the gathering, which wraps up today.
Elliott, a resident of the Tsartlip reserve and a teacher at the Lauwelnew Tribal School, is a co-founder of FirstVoices.com, a web-based aboriginal-language archive. The concept has prompted more than 60 First Nations to use online services to archive their languages, as well.
Elliott’s work with language preservation goes back 30 years, and has drawn from the efforts of his late father, Dave. Elliott first began looking at computers and digital videos in his work in 1999, and went on to develop FirstVoices.com with colleague Peter Brand.
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