Culture & Language

Culture & Language Department

Gitxaała Culture and Language department supports the learning and passing on of the Sm’algyax language and Gitxaała arts, cultural knowledge, and practices.

Ongoing community programs include language lessons, cultural workshops, and the creation of regalia. The department also facilitates recording of Sm’algyax and development of language curriculum and the repatriation of Gitxaała belongings and historical materials.


Director of Education & Culture: Debbie Stava

Language & Culture Manager: Dustin Johnson

Cultural Coordinator: Warren Nelson

Coordinates Gitxaała Drum and Dance Group practices

Language Coordinator: Leona Peardon

Coordinates Gitxaała Sm’algyax classes and language programs

Advisors and Partners:

The Gitxaała Language Authority provide ongoing guidance on Sm’algyax resource creation:
Annabelle Hill, Margaret Hill, Jeanette Moody, Rita Robinson, Ernie Bolton, Mathew Hill

Translation experts: Beatrice Robinson, Ben Spencer, Cecil Hill, Matthew Hill

Susan Marsden, Director of the Museum of Northern BC


Sm’algyax Resources

Current Projects

Sm’algyax Resource Development

Through a First Peoples’ Cultural Council “Pathways to Language Vitality” grant, the community language handbook will be expanded, and other resources created.

Sm’algyax Recording and Digitization

A “Language and Technology Grant” from FPCC is funding the creation of a Gitxaała First Voices website (link required), and a community language archive. We are locating and digitizing all existing language resources including a historical dictionary from the 1881, Sm’algyax narratives from 1916, and audio recordings from the 1960 and 1970s.

Repatriation Initiative

A Museum Assistance Program grant from Heritage Canada supports community-based research and travel to museums to promote the return of Gitxaała belongings.

Virtual Museum and Repatriation Database

A Museum Assistance Program grant from Heritage Canada is helping the Nation to create a repatriation database to support research on cultural belongings held in external museums. A virtual museum will celebrate all the Gitxaała objects held in community collections and those held in museums throughout the world, awaiting physical return.

Our Virtual Museum is now live! Visit to see more.

Regalia Project

A grant from the First Nations Wellbeing Fund supports ongoing regalia workshops in the village and in Prince Rupert.