Brett Waterfall


Language: Hailhzaqvla

Home: Bella Bella
Years Working Towards Language Revitalization: 7

Brett Waterfall has taken it upon himself to mentor our young people in cultural singing, language speaking, and public speaking using our language. He will be developing a language nest program with our health center to target newborns to toddler age children whose parents work at the health center. The nest will be housed within that building. Brett is also mentoring and supervising language trainees who are enrolled in linguistic courses, as well as in conversational classes and mentorships with fluent speakers.

Brett wasn't born into the language, whereas I, his mother, was. I lost my ability to speak my language after having it strapped out when I attended day and residential schools. Brett, through his patient and gentle nurturing, has inspired me to regain my language speaking skills. I am so inspired by his example and realize that if someone like him can master our language, then I have no reason or excuse to dwell in the past. He speaks to little children, including his own, ages 1 and 3 years. He conducts a weekly cultural-language-singing-dancing program with young children who are very engaged and enjoy the experiences. He is passionate about keeping our language alive, with its near-extinction status. He records fluent speakers while completing a library of CD-readers that include real-time local photos shown in the context of speaking the language.

He is 31 years old and has youth on his side--so, I am confident that by his example and with his investment, our language will remain strong and one day, I will speak it fluently, as I did before attending formal school. He is my language hero.

Nominated by Pauline Waterfall