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Ts'msyen Sm'algyax Language Authority


Sm’algya̱x is the language spoken by the Ts’msyen people who have lived for thousands of years on the North Coast of British Columbia, Canada. Our Sm’algya̱x language is the foundation of who we are as Ts’msyen people.  Sm’algya̱x is spoken by people from our Ts’msyen communities: 


  • Ma̱xłaxaała (Metlakatla)

  • Txałgiiw (Hartley Bay)

  • La̱x Kw’alaams (Port Simpson)

  • Gitxaała (La̱x Klan / Kitkatla)

  • Gidasdzuu (Klemtu)

  • Gits’ilaasü (Kitselas)

  • Gits’mḵ’eelm (Kitsumkalum)

  • as well as by Ts’msyen people who live in Prince Rupert, Terrace, Alaska and beyond.


We would like to acknowledge and honour the dedication of our valued Ts’msyen language and culture experts and educators who have contributed to keeping our language alive over many years past, present and future. 


Our Ts’msyen language is in serious decline due to the oppressive policies of the churches and government since the eighteen hundreds. Colonization has had a devastating impact on our culture, language and people, and still continues to do so. Most of our speakers are over seventy. Our elders and leaders strongly believe that it is critical to do everything that can be done to save our Sm’algya̱x language. Sm’algya̱x language, culture and spirituality go hand in hand and connect us to our territory. We know for a fact that Sm’algya̱x is a critical vehicle to instill cultural pride and identity in our young people.  We celebrate the language learning successes of our children and youth, which they are able to confidently share with their families and communities.  


Our Ts’msyen chiefs, matriarchs, elders, leaders, parents and youth have supported the teaching of Sm’algya̱x in our public schools in School District 52 from kindergarten to grade twelve for all learners since 1997. Previous to that Sm’algya̱x was offered in three of our Ts’msyen community schools for well over 30 years.  Community-based adult Sm’algya̱x learning continues to take place in Prince Rupert and other villages.


Our Sm’algya̱x program is one of the few First Nations language programs in British Columbia that has been supported by sustained, long-term curriculum and program development. Our program was one of the first in B.C. to develop an Integrated Resource Package (IRP), which made it possible for the language to be an accredited part of the school curriculum. Offering a strong Sm’algya̱x program is a goal of our Aboriginal Education Council and is supported by our School District Board of Education.  We also acknowledge that we continue to have a long way to go. 


At this time the Sm’algya̱x program is developing a strong sense of pride in our learners.  As the program currently is offered it does not have the capacity to build Sm’algya̱x fluency due to the limited instructional time available.  The continuing impact of colonization is that today’s learners of Sm’algya̱x have few opportunities to hear our language spoken in the home and in the community. The development and the delivery of our Sm’algya̱x program is guided by our Ts’msyen Language Authority and our Sm’algya̱x Committee.


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