The Tlicho language is strong!

Antoine Mountain
Guest columnist
Monday, July 20, 2009

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I would like to applaud the people like Tlicho language co-ordinator Rosa Mantla of Behchoko for working so hard to keep their mother tongue healthy and in use.

We all know that is it very difficult to try to ensure that our own First Nations cultures are a thing of the present as well as a viable part of our past.

It is all so much easier to just be satisfied that we can still eat our traditional foods when we want.

But even this is becoming a part of our history as we now have to count the number of caribou we take.

Before we know it, the matter of being Dene will soon be a part of our past, but not if the Tlicho peoples can help it.

Making sure that young couples use their language at home and that educators learn something of our ways of living go a long way to help preserve these indigenous languages.

And, yes of course, it is true that as a part of the residential schools experience we were taught right from the very start that being Dene was definitely very much a bad thing and that we needed to do as the non-aboriginal people say if we wanted to succeed.

Now we know that our ancestors like the Tlicho's Chief Jimmy Bruneau were right all along, and that we need to at the very least hold on to our own birthright, and learn the modern ways, too.

I was a part of the generation that was on the front lines of the concerted Roman Catholic assault on our culture and even today I have to think twice about using my own language, which I can speak as well as any.

With the Tlicho people pushing their own people to be proud of themselves as Dene on a daily basis, we can all do no less than shine off this magnificent cultural light!

Mahsi cho!

- Antoine Mountain is a Dene artist and writer originally from Radilih Koe'/Fort Good Hope. He can be reached at