In 2014 Jay Powell was the only remaining fluent speaker of Chinook Jargon in British Columbia. He had learned it from elders while he was creating dictionaries and learning materials for endangered west coast languages. He met Sam Sullivan, former Mayor of Vancouver, and told him of his concern for the language. Sullivan committed to doing his best to revive the language in BC.
Professor Powell had developed a Chinook Jargon curriculum at Langara College which UBC had accepted for credit courses. Sullivan retrieved Powell’s course materials from the Museum of Anthropology archives and organized several small teaching sessions. In September 2015 at the Olympic Village they organized an immersion weekend which was well covered in the media and another at the Hastings Mill in June 2016 with almost 50 learners at each.
Since then, The Global Civic Policy Society has continued to champion a number of Chinook Jargon learning initiatives:
- Children of the Northwest Company
- Can You Speak British Columbian?
- Can You Speak British Columbian? Part II
- Elders speaking Chinook Wawa in British Columbia
- Jay Powell interviewed by Sam Sullivan in Chinook Wawa
- Chinook Wawa Bible History
In addition to the videos above an Chinook Jargon study groups meets weekly. Eventually the group were able to bring in consulting linguist David Douglas “Chinook Man” Robertson PhD as an expert to help direct their studies. Then in mid-2020, they began to record their study sessions, realizing they would be of value to other Chinook Wawa students and researchers.