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Learn how to pronounce two Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim (Squamish language) words

A Squamish school has been renamed. Here's how to say St'a7mes and Átl'ḵa7tsem, two terms related to its identity.

Navigating the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim (Squamish language) is something new for many non-Indigenous folks in Squamish and elsewhere.

With a prominent education facility in Squamish reclaiming its Sḵwx̱wú7mesh name, it's a good time to familiarize oneself with how to pronounce the newly-reborn school.

Formerly known as Stawamus School, the institution is now St'a7mes School as of June 21.

One of the most common questions we've been receiving is how to pronounce the school's name, so we've unearthed an audio clip from the renaming ceremony to help readers out.

Our best approximation for a pronouncer is STAW — followed by a hard glottal stop — mes.

The '7' you see in the name is the glottal stop, which is made by constricting your throat, similar to what happens when you say, 'Uh-oh.'

Keep in mind, this isn't this writer's language, so to hear it said properly, listen to the audio clip of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim speaker, Aaron Williams, say the name and explain its origin.

During the school's renaming, Williams explained that Elders have said the name St'a7mes comes from two different words — river and head.

"They said that it's fitting for this place name here because it's really close to the mouth of the river, the Squamish…River, and also what's at the top of Átl'ḵa7tsem, which is known as Howe Sound," he said.

Our best approximation for saying Átl'ḵa7tsem is: AT-KA — glottal stop — tsum. Again, however, it's probably best you listen to Williams say the word.

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