University of Winnipeg launches Indigenous language courses

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The University of Winnipeg (UW) will launch three new Indigenous language certificate programs this fall, as the university continues to add courses and programs to teach and share Indigenous languages.

“Having an Indigenous languages program at The University of Winnipeg says to Indigenous people that Indigenous languages matter, and that there is a place for them at the University,” UW Indigenous languages program coordinator Lorena Fontaine said in a statement this week announcing the new certificates.

According to UW the certificates will offer a “pathway” for students who are not ready or able to commit to a full degree, or who wish to embed a specific Indigenous languages certificate into a current degree, and it will complement the Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous languages major that launched last fall at UW.

The three certificates being added this fall are Indigenous Language Revitalization, Teaching Indigenous Languages for Vitality, and Supporting Multilingualism and Indigenous Languages, and Fontaine said UW sees the value in continuing to add Indigenous language courses and degrees.

“There are two main objectives to the Indigenous languages program at The University of Winnipeg,” Fontaine said.

“The first is to teach students who are interested in learning a local Indigenous language to become proficient. The second is for students to be provided a historical context to why Indigenous languages are endangered.

“We are not just looking to teach students how to speak the language, but also to understand language revitalization locally and globally.”

UW and local community organizations said they are excited to see the new Teaching Indigenous Languages for Vitality certificate being offered, because they said there is a need in the province for more people to teach the languages.

“Indigenous language educators are key to revitalizing Indigenous languages,” Heather Souter of Prairies to Woodlands Language Revitalization Circle said in a statement.

“The new certificates support educators by providing training in how to teach, in ways that motivate children to use the language amongst themselves, in their families and in their communities.”

As well, according to UW, the Frontier School Division, which includes schools in several remote and northern communities, has committed to supporting 20 teachers, staff, and administrators to take the Teaching Indigenous Languages for Vitality certificate or the Supporting Multilingualism and Indigenous Languages certificate at UW.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

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