Megan Metz visited the Museum of Anthropology and got the chance to see some Haisla artifacts in person. (photo supplied)

Megan Metz visited the Museum of Anthropology and got the chance to see some Haisla artifacts in person. (photo supplied)

In Our Valley: Megan Metz

Linguistics fanatic who constantly strives to uplift her culture

A young 22-year-old trailblazer who’s invested in her culture, Megan Metz is a passionate woman who’s dedicated to revitalizing her Indigenous language.

Megan was born in Kitamaat Village, also known as Tsee-Motsa, and raised there until grade seven when she moved into town. After graduating from Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary School (MEMSS), Megan was ready to take on the big city and moved to Vancouver where she studied at SFU for a year.

Throughout her studies at SFU, she realized that the program wasn’t for her and took a leap year and readjusted her academic intentions.

“I was going there for a year but the program didn’t turn out to be what I thought it was and there was a lot of stuff going on in my personal life, so I felt it was the best decision for me at the time to take a year off and reevaluate, think about what I actually want to do and find something that brings me joy that I can commit to.”

Coming home for her year off, Megan began working for the Haisla Nation Council in their culture and language program where she found herself appreciating the field of anthropology, more specifically, linguistic anthropology.

“All I really knew was that I wanted to work with x̄á’islak̓ala/our Haisla language. […] I also liked the idea of better documenting [Haisla] cultural protocols, beliefs and language by someone that has more of an inside perspective and that was raised within the culture,” said Metz. “I just thought that whole idea was really cool I wanted to be able to contribute to preserving our knowledge and traditions in some way.”

With a better understanding of what she wants, Megan packed up her bags and moved to Kelowna to continue her pursuit of education. She lived and studied there for two years and graduated with an Associate Degree in Arts from Okanagan College.

Though Megan was grateful for her learning experiences in Vancouver and Kelowna, when she graduated from Okanagan College, she was excited to come home for good and be surrounded by the big mountains and a comforting community.

“I’ll be honest, I did have to leave for a bit and come back to truly appreciate what we have here,” said Metz. “I really love being by the ocean; growing up in the village I really loved the close-knit community feel, everyone looks out for you and wants you to do well.”

Throughout Megan’s summer breaks, she would come home and continue to work in the culture and language department as a summer student for the Haisla Nation Council. There she got the opportunity to use her creativity and constructed a ‘Haisla Monopoly set’ on a large laminated sheet of paper.

“I took different place names from our territory, street names from the village, and the names for our languages and I put them on a Monopoly board and created my own little deed cards and chance cards,” said Metz. “I tried making fun ways to get our youth and our community speaking Haisla and learning about our territory, and we ended up taking that board to our youth Haisla culture camps and it was a pretty big hit with kids.”

Through relationships built by Megan in her summer student position, she was offered a job with the Haisla Nation Council as a Digitization and Preservation Technician. There, she sifts through a large number of documents and voice recordings and is digitizing the information to help develop a curriculum for people.

“The other part of the job is to help develop the policy, protocols and procedures, […] we have a lot of different information from a lot of different people that have come to work with our people over the years.”

Megan is also completing a First Nations Language Certificate at the University of Northern British Columbia. This pilot program is in the Haisla language and is the first time classes are offered at this level.

“I’m really happy I get to be a part of it,” said Metz. “We just completed our Haisla language level one course and last semester we did a Haisla culture level one course where we got to learn all about eulachon’s and the historical ways of our people.”

Grateful to be home, Megan continues to uplift the Haisla language and embrace the community. That said, she still finds the time to enjoy the great outdoors and has picked up snowboarding through the winter months.

“I’ve learned that I enjoy small towns and areas that have more nature surrounding them as opposed to living in the larger cities.”

Not planning on leaving anytime soon, Megan continues to work with the Haisla Nation Council and contribute to Haisla’s language development programs.

READ MORE: In Our Valley – Tanner McAloney

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