Indigenous Top Ten

January 9, 2019

Efforts to keep traditional languages alive see growth, but require sustained supports

As mother-tongue speakers become more uncommon and proficient second-language speakers edge toward retirement, the Globe and Mailhighlights the difficulties of keeping traditional languages alive. David Underwood of the WSANEC Saanich territory teaches SENCOTEN through a University of Victoria and WSANEC School Board partnership program. “The parents wouldn’t speak to their children in the language. There was always a fear that their children would be apprehended,” Underwood said. WSANEC administrator Tye Swallow said that the LAU WELNEW Tribal School provides a SENCOTEN immersion program between preschool and Grade 5, and that enrollment has risen from eight students in 2013 to 91 today. The article points to the growth of Indigenous second-language speakers noted by StatsCan as a potential source of hope, and calls for continued efforts from governments to support language revitalization. Globe and Mail (National)

SD 72 to pilot language immersion program at kindergarten level

School District 72 in British Columbia will be piloting a Liq’wala/Kwak’wala language immersion program for students at Ripple Rock Elementary School in September 2019. The two-year pilot program will consist of a kindergarten curriculum in both English and Kwak’wala, to be taught by a district kindergarten teacher and a Kwak’wala language teacher. In future years, the program could expand to include Grade 1 students if there is sufficient interest. “We all know that language really is the foundation of culture,” said Assistant Superintendent Nevenka Fair. “We appreciate the board’s support for exploring this. The journey so far has been really exciting.” Trustee Daryl Hagen added that this project is “where we need to be spending our money” and expressed hope in seeing the program provide a model for other districts in the province. The development of the pilot project was overseen by Fair, SD 72 principal of Indigenous education Greg Johnson, Curtis Wilson of the Wei Wai Kum, Chief Brian Assu of We Wai Kai, and Laichwiltach language revitalization consultant Dee Cullon. Campbell River Mirror (BC)

TRU determines that Indigenous students need more gathering space

A two-year research initiative at Thompson Rivers University called the Coyote Project has concluded that Indigenous students need a larger gathering space on campus. “For a lot of [the students] it came down to a sense of belonging here,” said researcher Kelsey Arnouse. “Lots of them weren't from Kamloops, they weren't from the Kamloops area, so they were away from home and it was important to them that they had a home away from home.” CBC adds that while TRU does provide a space for Indigenous students called Cplul'kw'ten, or the Gathering Place, many of the students interviewed by the Coyote Project said that it is not large enough to accommodate everybody who would like to access it. CBC (BC)

IAESC celebrates anniversary of IIA with new website, logo

The Indigenous Advanced Education and Skills Council has revealed a new logo and website in celebration of the first anniversary of the Indigenous Institutes Act receiving royal assent. IAESC is the independent quality assurance organization that reviews Institutes and programs for certificate, diploma, and degree-granting credentials. “We are entering 2019 with as much momentum as 2018, which saw the formation of the IAESC board and incorporation as a federal not-for-profit organization,” said IAESC Executive Director Laurie Robinson. “We are adding, stone by stone, a new layer to the foundation created over decades by Indigenous educators and advocates.” The new website includes education community partner links, a library of resource links, news stories, and a page to download an application. The IAESC has further announced that it will host a student conference in February to help shape the future of the community-driven post-secondary education and training system in Ontario. Nation Talk | Bay Today | Anishinabek News (ON)

VIU adds 15 Indigenous Teacher Training seats

The Government of British Columbia has announced funding for 15 new Indigenous teacher-training seats to be added to Vancouver Island University's Cowichan Campus. “I believe that incorporating Indigenous perspectives in teacher training is essential because it encourages future educators to think outside the traditional box of teaching,” said VIU Education student Brianna Thorne. “Indigenous knowledge offers students the opportunity to explore the world around them in terms of their relationship to everything on our planet. It teaches about respect, forgiveness, humility and reciprocity. Indigenous knowledge has so much to offer for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.” The program will be available by Fall 2019, according to the Cowichan Valley CitizenCowichan Valley Citizen (BC)

Seneca’s Odeyto space one of top ten Canadian Architecture Projects of 2018

Odeyto, Seneca’s new Indigenous centre at Newnham Campus, has been named one of the top 10 Canadian Architecture Projects of 2018 by Azure Magazine.The building has specifically been recognized for Best Implementation of Native Building Practices. Seneca reports that the building, named after the Anishnaabe word “Odeyto” – which translates to “the good journey” – will serve as the new home of FirstPeoples@Seneca and is also accessible to members of the broader community.  “We are delighted to see Odeyto’s architectural achievements being recognized in this way,” said Seneca Associate Dean Student Services and Indigenous Education Mark Solomon. “We are very proud of what we have achieved with the space, which has quickly become a daily destination for Indigenous teaching, learning and gathering. It has become a home for our Indigenous students.” Azure |Seneca (ON)

SMU announces new Indigenous advisory council

Saint Mary’s University has announced the creation of a new President’s Advisory Council on Indigenous Affairs, which will oversee Indigenous supports on campus. “As an institution, we are committed to advancing support for Indigenous students, and strengthening connections to the community,” said SMU President Robert Summerby-Murray. “The advice and guidance of the council will be a great resource for the university.” The council will include Millbrook First Nation Chief Bob Gloade, Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaw Executive Director Donald Julien, Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre Executive Director Pamela Glode-Desrochers, Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs Director of Health Jarvis Googoo, and Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewe Post-Secondary consultant Ann Sylliboy. SMU | CBC (NS)

Preservation of Ojibwe language at heart of USudbury introductory course

The University of Sudbury has introduced a course in Nishnaabemowin, the Ojibwe language spoken by Indigenous people around Lake Huron and Eastern Ontario, CBC reports. Mary Ann Corbiere, an Indigenous languages instructor from Wikiwemikong First Nation who is teaching the course, told CBC that she began preserving Nishnaabemowin in 1989. Corbiere noted that some students want to learn the language because they were not exposed to it when they were younger, while otehrs wnat to be able to communication with relatives. USudbury instructor Jessica Shonias added that the language is in danger of going extinct, as the last generation of native speakers is aging. “A generous estimate is we have like 20 years for Nishnaabemowin,” said Shonias. “To me [UN's 2019 year of Indigenous Languages] is shedding a light on the urgency of Indigenous languages across Canada.” CBC (ON)

NWT high school politics class secures $40K for youth centre 

After months of work, a high school politics class at the Deh Gáh Elementary and Secondary School has secured $40K for a youth centre in Fort Providence, Northwest Territories. A curling club’s lounge will be transformed into a youth centre that will provide a safe space for kids during the evenings and weekends. The youth hope to host movie and board game nights, involve elders to offer traditional skills, and set up a full kitchen. “A lot of the time what I end up seeing late at night [is] kids walking around in the park, when it's like below 30, to get away from their home life,” said high school student Nyssa McKenzie. “I have a little brother. He's one year old and I want him to be safe while growing up.” CBC (NWT)

NIC introduces Likʷala /Kwak’wala and Nuu-chah-nulth language courses

North Island College has announced that it is offering introductory language courses in Likʷala /Kwak’wala and Nuu-chah-nulth at its Campbell River and Comox Valley campuses. A release explains that the Kwak’wala course, which is offered at both locations, includes listening and speaking with a focus on basic conversation, structure, and pronunciation. Introduction to Nuu-Chah-nulth, which will be offered at Comox Valley, enables students to develop listening techniques that compare and contrast Nuu-chah-nulth and English sound patterns and pronunciation. “These courses support adult learners in obtaining relevant credits to achieve their Dogwood diploma,” said NIC Adult Basic Education instructor Sara Child. “But, more importantly, they help our students and communities by supporting the revitalization of our precious languages.” Nation Talk (BC)