BC Chinook Wawa was formed by students of Jay Powell, the only remaining person in British Columbia who learned Chinook Wawa from native elders. Jay developed a curriculum and taught Chinook Wawa at Langara College in the 1970s. Some students used it as a language credit to get into the University of British Columbia.

[A] century ago there was justifiable cause to believe that Chinook Jargon might become a regional language, even a national language of the United States or Canada.”

— Jay Powell in Chinook Jargon

Many of the people Jay influenced wanted to respond to his call to help revitalize this important language of BC history.

One of Jay’s students, Global Civic Policy Society founder Sam Sullivan, worked with him to contribute an article on Chinook Wawa to the Canadian Encyclopedia.

“[Chinook Wawa] was used widely in court testimony, newspaper advertising, missionary activity among Indigenous peoples, and everyday conversation from central British Columbia to northern California..”

— Jay Powell and Sam Sullivan, 2017

Currently the BC Chinook Wawa website community is running an online Chinook Wawa study group. For more information, please get in touch using the contact form at the bottom of this page.

Jay and Sam have also hosted several immersion weekends and developed more learning materials.

Chinook Wawa immersion weekend

Students try their hand at wood carving
Class photograph


Vancouver Courier June 25, 2015 Chinook Wawa Day celebrates B.C. trade language article Cheryl Rossi, photo Dan Toulgoet

BBC Travel October 2018 North America’s Nearly Forgotten Language article Diane Selkirk, photo Diane Selkirk

Vancouver Sun June 30 2015 Why Kumtuks Chinook?

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