STOLCEL John Elliott
Saanich Language Activist,  author, artist and technology visionary

STOLCEL John Elliott is a member of the Saanich Nation on Vancouver Island, Chairman of the Saanich Native Heritage Society and language and culture teacher at the LAU,WELNEW Tribal School.

STOLCEL has delivered technology-based conference presentations in Vancouver, Toronto, Flagstaff Arizona and Bozeman Montana. In December 2002, he received the University of Victoria Community Leadership Award, honouring his pioneering work in the application of technology to Aboriginal language revitalization.

In 1999 he began experimenting with digital video and computers as teaching tools for Aboriginal language education. STOLCEL’s collaboration with a teaching colleague at LAU,WELNEW Tribal School resulted in the development of a multimedia authoring suite specifically designed for Indigenous language instruction. This work ultimately led to the creation of the FirstVoices Web-based Aboriginal Language resource.

FirstVoices is a unique suite of web-based tools and services designed to support Aboriginal people engaged in language archiving, language teaching and culture. (The website can be seen at:

STOLCEL is a member of the Straits Salish People, also known as the "salt water people" because they lived from the bounty of the ocean and the land. His understanding of how their ancient language directly connects the people to the natural laws of the land is fascinating and yet remarkably insightful. They were in touch with nature and used the universe as their clock, which the people and the animals follow today.

The smooth flow and integration of their activities was possible because they lived a traditional life linked to nature. The Salish People recognized that nature was complex and not easily reduced to a simple clock or calendar. Their economic and cultural activities were related to the seasons and were sacred to them. Art, language, spirituality and all activities were one, and they honoured their elders for recording and preserving this way of life, which they continue to respect by honouring the wisdom of their past. The language of the WS'NEĆ People is SENĆOŦEN, which is taught at L̵ÁU,WELṈEW Tribal School.

STOLCEL credits his father, Dave Elliott, who first wrote down the language by withdrawing from his activities for years to record the sacred sounds, which made its current preservation possible. He encouraged STOLCEL to embrace technology as the medium through which the language could be preserved, learned and taught to future generations.

STOLCEL’s mission today is to tell the history of the land in the original native language and to restore those sacred sites and holy spots that date back over 10,000 years.

STOLCEL is a deep and silent speaker whose reflective pauses emphasize his powerful message for those who are fortunate to hear the wisdom of the ancient peoples.

Topic title
Our language connects us to the land