Elder Mel Bevan from Kitselas spoke in front of 22 people at the UNBC Northwest campus in Terrace on April 11. (Brittany Gervais photo)

Elder in residence program kicks off at UNBC Northwest campus

Mel Bevan from Kitselas was the first recipient of the speaker series in Terrace

Kitselas’ Mel Bevan was the first recipient of UNBC’s Elder in Residence program on the Terrace campus, in which he became a regular speaker in sessions scheduled over four weeks.

Twenty-two people gathered in Room 103 on April 11 to hear Bevan, who also holds the Simoogit name Sa-tzan, speak on the Tsimshian language for the program’s second instalment.

“But what I’m calling it is the language of the lower Skeena because the word ‘Tsimshian’ itself doesn’t mean ‘language’ but a location,” Bevan said, who is a fluent speaker himself. He explained that there are books written about the Tsimshian that divide it into three branches, the Nisga’a, the Gitxsan and the Tsimshian.

However, even though they are similar in some ways, they are not the same language and are each used differently.

“There is actually no such thing, I don’t know where that came from,” Bevan said with a laugh. “I don’t know who wrote that book.”

He has been an active leader in Kitselas for nearly a half-century and has served as chief councillor, band manager, and chief treaty negotiator. Currently he is working on organizing several books filled with translations of the Tsimshian language from William Beynon, a hereditary chief of the Tsimshian nation who worked as an oral historian from 1915 to 1956.

Bevan explained that it’s one thing to learn about the language and culture, but another to actually live and experience it.

“It is important because living it is different than learning about it,” he said. “If you lived it, it’s hardwired into you.”

Normally held in Prince George, the elder-in-residence program was brought to the Terrace campus to further expand the program’s outreach.

Bruce Bidgood, associate professor at the northwest regional campus, said the sessions provide an opportunity for people with different levels of understanding to come and learn together in one place.

“It really provides an opportunity for two ways of knowing to come together for the benefit of all,” Bidgood said.

Bidgood said he first met Bevan when he was running for MLA in 2017, going door to door in Kitselas with MP Nathan Cullen. As they went by Bevan’s house, they were invited inside for hot tea boiling over the fire in his backyard.

“We sat around for hours, talking about stories and what was important to Kitselas people,” Bidgood said. “If the weather had been a nicer friend we could have had one of the sessions at Mel’s house around the fire pot, but we still have snow.”

The next and last session will be on May 9 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. at the UNBC Northwest campus.


Rod Link photo Mel Bevan, Kitselas elder, spoke at the UNBC Terrace campus on April 11 as part of the university’s Elder in Residence program.

Just Posted

Community cleanup in full swing this weekend

The 2018 Terrace garbathon invites volunteers to help spring clean this Sunday

Terrace Peaks gymnast earns provincial gold on beam

Savannah Medeiros shone brightly in her best division at the BC Artistic Gymnastics Championships

Salmon fishery top of mind as Cullen returns to Parliament

Skeena Bulkley Valley MP says he’ll push for earliest release of DFO plan

Radio host starts 30-hour campout to raise money, awareness for Relay for Life

CJFW’s Mike Nagle will be on top of the catwalk by the Bell Media building until 6 p.m. on Saturday

Terrace library supports B.C. task force

Increased funding would better serve rural communities like Terrace : Tremblay

North Coast teachers learn the language of technology

School District 52 teachers learned about circuits, Microbits and JavaScripts on April 20

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Dix says B.C. remains focused on fighting youth overdoses in wake of teen’s death

Elliot Eurchuk’s parents say he died at his Oak Bay home after taking street drugs

North Coast teachers learn the language of technology

School District 52 teachers learned about circuits, Microbits and JavaScripts on April 20

Final week for ALR input

Public consultation process closes April 30

‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Child’s body found in river downstream from where boy went missing during flood

Three-year-old Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms in February

B.C. VIEWS: Eliminating efficiency for farm workers

Don’t worry, NDP says, the B.C. economy’s booming

Most Read