Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

International News

Canada’s indigenous university is helping students reconnect with their language

#Canadas #indigenous #university #helping #students #reconnect #language

Signs once banned in Cree, artwork on the walls and a teepee on the lawn: Indigenous students are reclaiming their language and traditions at this former government boarding school in Canada, which has been linked to abuse for decades.

“I was told we weren’t good, we were under someone else and I believed in that most of my life,” said former college student Veronica Fraser, now 60.

She sobbed as memories of her time at school – part of a system where indigenous children were forcibly separated from their families, cultures and languages ​​– flooded back.

When local First Nations bands took over the school and renamed it University nuhelot’ine thaiyots’i nistameyimakanak Blue Quills in 2015, Fraser decided to return.

“I had to get my pride back,” she said.

She said the university’s Bachelor of Arts degree in Nehiyawewin (Cree language) helped her reconnect with her roots.

Now she looks forward to the day when she can speak it fluently with her children and grandchildren.

The centuries-old red-brick building near St. Paul, Alberta — about 200 kilometers northeast of the provincial capital Edmonton — was once part of the vast network of schools across Canada.

By the 1990s, around 150,000 Indigenous, Inuit and Metis children were segregated in these schools, which are often run by churches.

They were cut off from their family, language and culture as part of a failed assimilation policy, and many of them were violently abused.

Thousands are believed to have died from neglect and malnutrition, and the discovery of at least 1,300 unmarked graves at these sites last year has prompted widespread soul-searching.

The province of Alberta has had the most boarding schools, and it’s where Pope Francis plans to apologize next week for the church’s role in that system.

– “Very challenging” languages ​​to learn –

Many parents did not pass on their languages ​​to their children, either to protect them from the abuse they suffered or because they had forgotten their mother tongue after their time in state schools.

“But their children still suffered because they don’t have the language,” said university president Sherri Chisan.

Around 250 students are now taking courses in economics, sociology, Cree and Dene languages ​​and cultural practices.

Staff point to reminders of the facility’s painful past: a dusty boiler room that boys had to work in, a staircase that kids had to scrub clean. An old confessional box has been replaced by the librarian’s office.

“We’re reclaiming what was stolen from us,” says Wayne Jackson, director of the Cree language program. “We are reclaiming our heritage, our language, our culture, our customs, our history.”

The reappropriation of St. Paul’s Boarding School began with a sit-in in 1970 by parents demanding control of their children’s education be retained.

A deal with the federal government made it the first indigenously administered school in Canada and later a university.

– Hard to translate –

According to a 2016 census, Cree is the most widely spoken Indigenous language in Canada. But indigenous languages ​​are generally spoken only by older generations and are on the decline.

Some students have enrolled at the university to improve their language skills and teach Cree to youth in their respective communities.

The original school was “designed to take the language away from my ancestors,” says student Edwin Thomas, a 43-year-old former oil worker.

“Coming back to that … it’s very touching,” he said.

Fellow student Tarryn Cardinal focuses intensely on a moose hide and explains that tanning animal hides – part of the curriculum – helps her learn about both their culture and their language.

“They are linked,” she says, before adding that “some indigenous things just can’t be translated into English.”

In her sophomore year, she enjoys having brief conversations with her grandmother in Cree.

“That’s why I’m proud of myself, I feel like we’re closer and more connected — me and my culture, me and my grandma, me and my other people,” says the beaming 26-year-old.

Despite his students’ enthusiasm, Jackson still worries about Cree survival.

“All it takes is one generation of speakers who don’t speak the language and we’re losing them,” he says.

Social Tags:
#Canadas #indigenous #university #helping #students #reconnect #language

You May Also Like


State would join dozens of others in enacting legislation based on federal government’s landmark whistleblower statute, the False Claims Act

press release

With a deep understanding of the latest tech, Erbo helps businesses flourish in a digital world.

press release

#Automotive #Carbon #Canister #Market #Projected #Hit #USD New York, US, Oct. 24, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —  According to a comprehensive research report by Market...

press release

Barrington Research Analyst James C.Goss reiterated an Outperform rating on shares of IMAX Corp IMAX with a Price target of $20. As theaters...