Cumberland House Cree Nation Daycare offering Cree language opportunities

·2 min read

Beginning in December, Cumberland House Cree Nation Daycare will offer a Swampy Cree language nest to children from six months to five years old.

Language nests are programs where an Indigenous language is spoken and modeled in a childcare setting. The nest is intended to provide a safe home-like environment for young children to interact with fluent speakers of the First Nation language, often Elders, through meaningful interaction with children.

Marlene McKay, Cumberland House Cree Nation’s band CEO, said the Cree language along with other North American Indigenous languages are in a critical stage.

“It’s really important that we bring that language back, it talks about who we are, it’s our culture, it’s our way of being, it’s our way of associating with one another,” McKay said.

“Let’s be proud of who we are, we should be proud of our language. It took a lot for the language to be taken away, to be shamed out of all of us but it’s going to take a lot of work to bring it back.”

The program will be made available to children through the daycare and Head Start, with about 30 spaces available to receive the language education. It is being funded until March, 2023 by Heritage Canada for around $500,000, with a possibility of extension.

McKay said whether or not they continue to receive the funding, her hope is that they would find the funds to keep it going.

“It requires a skill, you have to have the language and some professional status because you’re teaching it in a nurturing setting,” she said. “There are speakers out there but the numbers are going down.”

Those wanting to enroll their children into the Swampy Cree language nest are asked to contact Cumberland House Cree Nation Daycare at 306-888-2225 and ask for Evangeline Young.

Cumberland House Cree Nation is currently seeking applications for the positions of an early learning teacher and an early childhood educator level two, who will be responsible for facilitating the language nest.

As the language nest is specific to Swampy Cree, the Nation is specifically recruiting qualified applicants who are fluent in the language. Ideally, the applicants will originate from the eastern sector of Saskatchewan or from Treaty 5 territory where the language is spoken. The early learning teacher would be involved with speaking Swampy Cree at all times with staff and children, as well as use teaching material that are in Swampy Cree.

Jessica Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal

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