Masso has received an Indigenous Language Revitilization Diploma
from the University of Victoria. (Photo courtesy of Timmy
Timmy Masso hasnt entered Grade 12 yet, but hes already
secured a University of Victoria diploma.
Timmy Masso is heading into Grade 12 at Ucluelet Secondary School
this September, but hes already earned a University of Victoria
diploma and is halfway through a Bachelor of Education degree.
The 17 year-old Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation member is celebrating
the completion of a two-year Indigenous Language Revitalization
Diploma at UVic.
Thank you to all the people who have helped me on my journey.
Theres so many people, I could go on forever about all the
people who helped me out, Masso told the Westerly News.
The diploma was the second of four steps towards UVics Bachelor
of Education degree and followed Massos completion of a Nuu-chah-nulth
Language Proficiency Certificate program in 2019.
The certificate program was the first of its kind to be offered
through UVic and was launched in partnership with North Island College
and Quuquuatsa Language Society.
Masso was the new programs youngest enrolee when he entered
the class in 2018 and he had been a key voice in its fruition. As
a Grade 8 student, Masso lobbied hard for more opportunities to
learn the Nuu Chah Nulth language and an impromptu and impassioned
speech he made to a 2016 Assembly of First Nations meeting in Victoria
spurred nation-wide media coverage that provided one of the sparks
needed for the Nuu-chah-nulth Language Proficiency Certificate program
to be launched.
I was advocating to get language in schools and one of the
biggest issues was there were no accredited teachers to teach the
language, Masso told the Westerly News. That was one
of the biggest problems with trying to get language in the schools,
so I went to meetings across B.C. and Canada trying to get someone
to step up to the plate to give Elders a certificate or a degree,
so they would be able to come into the school and get paid the same
as the teacher for their time
Through these meetings, universities
actually stepped up to the plate and said they were going to try
to start putting on more programs that get Indigenous people certified
READ MORE: Ucluelet
Secondary School seeking Nuu-chah-nulth speakers
The first certificate program was offered at Port Albernis
North Island College campus with teachers selected by the Quuquuatsa
Language Society and hired by UVic.
Masso fought hard to join the inaugural program, despite his young
age, and said he was encouraged to do so by linguist Dr. Adam Werle.
[Werle] was talking to me one day and he said that maybe
it was time I stepped away from advocating and actually start trying
to learn my language. So, because I fought so hard to get the class
in Port [Alberni] for all the Nuu chah nulth speakers, I decided
to try to enter the class as well, Masso said.
I told them that the only place I can actually learn my language
is through their program and I have a right to learn my language,
so they allowed me to be in the class.
With the diploma in hand, Masso is now able to serve as a teaching
assistant for Nuu chah nulth classes, which he hopes to do at West
Coast schools. He noted he completed a practicum at Ucluelet Elementary
School in November.