A Tsilhqot’in language teacher in the Cariboo Chilcotin is making a difference in the lives of the students she works with.
Annette Frank works at Alexis Creek Elementary/Secondary School and is teaching her traditional language to a multicultural group, she said.
“I teach them mostly through singing. It calms then down and inspires self-esteem. I truly believe that every child does matter.”
She has been working at the school for eight years and prior to that she worked for 12 years in the school in her home community of Tl’etinqox First Nation.
Her new principal Mark Lewis, who arrived on the job in August 2022, praised Frank’s work with the students.
“What a great champion she is for Indigenous causes and what truth and reconciliation truly should be,” Lewis said. “I’ve learned a lot from her.”
Recently some of Frank’s students sang at the 158th Annual Lhats’as?in Memorial that honoured the Tsilhqot’in war chiefs that were hanged in Quesnel on Oct. 26, 1864.
Tsilhqot’in National Government tribal chair and Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse said the students were the highlight of the event.
Frank said they sang a good morning song and a bear song and for the bear song held masks on popsicle sticks to cover their eyes which helped with their nervousness.
“They were so many people and I remembered if they used the masks they could hide behind them. They sang their hearts out.”
Frank works full days at the school Monday to Thursday and a half day Friday. Aside from teaching the language, she works one-on-one with students doing basic counselling, especially if a student is distraught or upset.
“I am often called in to help calm them down. I will talk to them, soothe them.”
At 59, Frank said she is starting to slow down a bit and is dealing with diabetes. She has lived at Tl’etinqox all her life and is married to Alvin Frank Sr.
They have three grown children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild who was born in August.
Recently Chief Alphonse told Frank she is an elder knowledge keeper for the community with the ability to calm situations down in a crowd.
“That felt good,” Frank said.