As First Nations across Ontario work hard to reinforce pride and respect for Aboriginal heritage and culture, language plays a crucial role in those initiatives.
Teachers of Anishnaabemowin (the Ojibwe language) from across Central Ontario will gather at Georgian College’s Barrie Campus Aboriginal Centre on Friday, April 15.
The event is called Moving Forward Together: Wiijigaabiwitaadidaa Niigaan Zhaayin.
Participants will share experiences, techniques and fresh ideas and move forward together to support each other in the revitalization of Anishnaabemowin.
The day will focus on collaborative discussions, development of relationships, and sharing of resources.
Those attending are representing a variety of First Nations and organizations, including Georgina Island First Nation, Beausoleil First Nation, Rama First Nation, Wasauksing First Nation, Saugeen First Nation and Cape Croker First Nation, as well as school boards from Simcoe County and York Region.
Students from Georgian’s Anishnaabemowin Language Programming program will also take part. Anishnaabemowin Language Programming is a uniquely focused two-year program that not only teaches the Ojibwe language, but also prepares graduates to develop and implement sustainable language programs in Aboriginal communities and organizations.
Pamala Agawa, First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Curriculum Co-ordinator with the York Region District School Board, said the retention and expansion of traditional language is extremely important.
“Language is our connection to our culture, our connection to the land and it is our responsibility to pass it on to future generations. Language is also vital to understanding our identity as First Nations Peoples,” she said.
The connections made during the Moving Forward Together event are especially significant, Agawa said.
“The fluent language speakers in our communities are older, so it is important for us to create and support learning opportunities for our Anishnaabemowin Language teachers before we lose it. Gatherings like this will provide the opportunity for networks to be created and resources to be developed to support the learning of our First Nations youth and families. With the added challenge of different dialects, creating a local network will enable the teachers in an area/region to deliver a consistent program,” she said.