Indigenous Language Revitalization and Exchange in the Community
This is a language sustainability project in our local community of Lac La Biche. There have been efforts to revitalize the Cree language and bring notice to the other Indigenous languages in our community, but as of yet, there are no further efforts to sustain these projects or the languages. The leader of this project is a Cree-speaking Kindergarten student who is passionate about languages and his heritage. He would like to continue learning the languages of his heritage, namely French and Cree. Upon further inquiry, I have had difficulty finding Cree resources and activities to support and sustain the Cree language, despite a Cree literacy kit that has been donated to the school. There are no programs to promote the use of the kit or the inclusion of community members in the school beyond September 30th, and an invited Metis Elder by parents to share the culture in June for a day. Further, upon discussions with the Principal and Director of Ecole Sainte Catherine, we are very interested in partnering with the Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre but require funding to help jump-start this partnership. The LSF funding is for the Elders and knowledge keepers and resources to produce video documentation of the languages (Cree stories being taught to children and other local Indigenous languages, if possible) on a monthly basis beginning in April. We plan to have one reading in April, and one in May, after which we will submit the progress of our project and another reading in June. We hope to keep this relationship going monthly, continuing in September when school begins again. On an environmental note, due to the nature of Indigenous knowledge, the more we involve our Indigenous community members, the more environmentally aware we will become as a school and community. This project includes the purchase of books listed in the Cree literacy kit for the school library so that interest may be taken home and the stories that they have learned may be transferred into their everyday lives, including the lives of their families.
– Made connections with the Friendship Centre (directors, teachers and Elders)
– Made arrangements with the Cree teacher there – Vernon Auger
Week of April 22:
– In class reading of J’ai le coeur rempli de bonheur by Madame Maxine in French to Kinders and Pre-K students
– First Visit by Vernon Auger
– Cree reading of My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith
– 14 students (Pre-K to K)
Week of May 1:
– In class, Madame Maxine read Discovering People in French to her Kindergarten class
– Kindergarten poster art of families and vocabulary being learned
– Drawings of family members by Grades 1 and 2
– Second Visit by Vernon Auger
– Cree reading of Discovering People by Neepin Auger
– 21 students (Pre-K to 2)
Week of May 15:
– In class M. Mamoudou read Les Mots Volés in French to the K-2 classes with a discussion about how lucky we are today to have kind teachers and to have this wonderful opportunity to learn and remember Cree.
– Madame Noëlla read Les Mots Volés to the grade 3/4 class with a discussion about how lucky we are today to have kind teachers and to have this wonderful opportunity to learn and remember Cree.
– 3rd visit by Vernon Auger (wrap up)
– Cree reading of Les Mots Volés by Melanie Florence
– 35 students
Local elder Diane Ludwig was invited multiple times to read and share a book. However, her health prevented her from visiting. We are keeping our doors open for her to visit in her own time when she is well.
Reflection & Celebration
Teachers and students alike were touched by the effects of language loss in our community, and we are all willing and striving to help revitalize the cultures and languages that have been introduced during this action project. We are scheduling a bannock and tea in June to Celebrate.