Old Massett sign project encourages Haida speaking

  • Oct. 13, 2008 2:00 p.m.

submitted by Jusquan Amanda Bedard–Residents and visitors to Old Massett or New Town will notice a great addition to the community – Haida street and office signs, shaped like a traditional Haida canoe. This project, spearheaded by the Xaad Kihlgaa Hl Suu.u Language office and funded by Gwaii Trust, encourages everybody to learn and speak the Haida names for streets and offices, after all, we are on Haida Gwaii (rarely referred to as the ‘Queen Charlotte Islands’ anymore), so let’s speak Haida as much as possible! Ts’inii Stephen Brown has visited Chief Matthews School and gone over the signs with the students, ask them for help identifying the signs. If you need a refresher, here are the translations of the street signs to help you navigate through the village (and remember, G is almost a silent pronunciation; and when a ‘ is present, it represents a ‘stop’ sound; the hl is like a more pronounced ‘th’ sound, and finally, K is a harsh or gutteral sounding K):Gaaw: Old MassettYaahl K’yuuwaas: Raven StreetGuud K’yuuwaas: Eagle StreetKun K’yuuwaas: Whale StreetK’aat K’yuuwas: Shark StreetTs’ang K’yuuwaas: Beaver StreetTaan K’yuuwaas: Bear StreetDakdakdiyaa K’yuuwaas: Hummingbird StreetTs’anii K’yuuwaas: Chinii StreetNaani K’yuuwaas: Naani StreetKung K’yuuwaas: Moon StreetK’yuu t’askajuuhldyas: Loop RoadHlyk’yaan k’ust’aan k’yuuwaas: Frog StreetHlgaaywaadaa naay k’yuuwaas: Cemetery RoadIijaaw: Place Name (Hill across from Arnie’s longhouse)Gad Gaywaas: Place Name (White slope)Ts’aagwals: Place Name (fern)K’aayang: Place NameTlaagaa Gaawtlaas: New TownSt’al K’yuuwaas: Hill AvenueMatthews K’yuu: Matthews Street Ask an Elder for help in pronunciation, or your child.Also, look for the office signs throughout Haida offices in the Massett area. Businesses have been given opportunity to order signs as well – only a few have responded, but maybe after seeing how great the signs look they will contact our office.The Xaad Kihlgaa Hl Suu.u office has a big ‘Haaw’a!’ to the following for making this project a reality: Tsinii Stephen Brown, Naani Mary Swanson, Naani Primrose Adams, Naani Emily Geortzen, Merle Anderson, Leona Kennedy, and Louise Almquist who all assisted in translations for streets and office signs; Gwaii Trust for funding; Jim West for his patience in my many orders and corrections; John Disney and the office of OMVC Economic Development, who did not even hesitate to support the project in any way possible, especially in the ‘lending’ of Fletcher Collison! Fletcher was tireless in seeing these signs go up and a big Haaw’a to him, especially for his patience while I ironed out all the details. Haaw’a to Fletcher and Ellis Edgars for digging the holes and mixing the concrete to put the posts up; Haaw’a also to Fletch who assisted his dad putting up the signs once we had them on brackets. Finally, haaw’a to Stan Hansen for saving the day at the final stage of this project. I respectfully ask that everyone learn the Haida names for these streets and places, and use what you know as much as possible. Xaad Kihlgaa Hl Suu.u! Haaw’a.

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