Cullen backs move to teach Sm’algyax

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen is supportive of SD52's move to introduce the Tsimshian First Nation language to kids

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen is supportive of the Prince Rupert School District’s (SD52) move to introduce the Tsimshian First Nation’s language of Sm’algyax to kindergarden to Grade 4 students.

In a conference call last Friday, Cullen endorsed the curriculum change, stating that it’s an important part of Canada’s reconciliation efforts and is beneficial to the kids’ overall learning by having a new language be introduced.

“I think it’s a positive step. We’ve seen many schools across the north pick up more and more First Nations languages in the class,” said Cullen.

“This is about understanding where we live, the cultures that are here and language obviously being the key that opens that door. It’s good on all sorts of levels in terms of respect, but educators will also tell you to have a young mind be expanded by learning other languages improves their abilities in all sorts of fields, not just language, but on all fronts.”

The MP is preparing for a B.C.-wide tour from Prince George to Haida Gwaii and everywhere in between, as well as along the coast, for a final tune-up to connect with residents before Canada’s fall federal election.

Cullen said, while the NDP party may be atop some polls, that doesn’t necessarily translate to votes, especially with a few months to go until the election date, he stated.

“It looks like a very tight and competitive three-way race … The projections for the Northwest continue to remain strong. Good job growth figures … with all sorts of potential projects on the books that may get launched quite soon.

“We’ve seen mistakes made in the past where a party’s doing well or up in the polls and seen as the favourite and they get too far ahead of themselves … The focus for me is very much about this constituency – what’s going on here, helping out a few other ridings if I can, but no, we’re very sober about this. There’s a long way to go,” Cullen said.

And with the positive final investment decision coming from Pacific Northwest LNG and a few First Nations bands not yet on board with the proposal, Cullen offered his take on a pressing issue that stands at the heart of the LNG terminal proposal.

“The only real struggle the company has is around location. The impact on Flora Bank remains [a contentious point] and for some of the coastal communities, the general openness towards LNG is still there,” he said.

“I don’t know if the company can modify what they’re planning to do enough to gain the social licence they need … It’s dogged the project almost since day one, so fixing that particular conundrum will be in the company’s interest.”