St'at'imc language advocate Gertie Ned dies at 83

"The St'at'imc language was her passion"

Funeral services were held at Xaxli'p Jan. 2 for St'at'imc elder Gertrude Ned, a passionate advocate for preserving and promoting the St'at'imc language.

Mrs. Ned, 83, died Dec. 29.

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Raised by her grandparents at T'it'q'et, she spent her married life at Xaxli'p.

"The St'at'imc language was her passion. She learned the language and culture from our grandparents, Jack and Susan James," her sister Nora Greenway told the News. "She never stopped teaching and she never stopped learning so she could pass it along to others. She was very generous in sharing the language, whether it was teaching language classes in the schools or going into people's homes to teach them."

Gertie Ned had always been interested in the language, but her sister says her interest was sparked when an opportunity arose to study under the tutelage of linguist Jan Van Ejik with the Lil'wat people in Mount Currie.

"Once she did that, I think she really thought 'I'm going to carry on with this,'" Nora Greenway recalled last week.

Mrs. Ned started St'at'imc language programs in three local schools at a time when aboriginal language programs were not being offered in B.C. She volunteered her St'at'imc teaching for several years before she was hired to teach the language.

She also promoted language learning - even teaching one of the local pharmacists. As part of the St'at'imc Language Authority, Gertie Ned edited St'at'imc publications, helped develop two St'at'imc dictionaries with linguist Henry Davis and other fluent speakers and was a language immersion camp instructor for six years. She also contributedsnippets of herpersonal lifestory of growing up St'at'imcto Lisa Matthewson'sbook"When I Was Small."

Colleagues remember that she was always searching for new and innovative ways to teach language, journeying as far as New Mexico to learn about developing a language curriculum.

She was also very active in USLCES (Upper St'at'imc Language, Culture and Education Society) and the Ucwalmicw Centre Society.

Her contributions were recognized by the First Nations Education Steering Committee and First Peoples Culture Heritage Language Council, which presented her with its B.C. Language Champion Award at a language conference in Vancouver.

Appropriately, parts of her funeral service were in the St'at'imc language and she was buried according to St'at'imc traditions, with a minister from the Lillooet Christian Fellowship officiating.

Gertie Ned was predeceased by her husband Wilfred and her eldest son. She is survived by her children Cyril, Clayton, Martha and Jacqueline; her sisters Nora Greenway and Lorraine Machell; and her brother Arnold Adolph.

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