"Waking Up Ojibwe"- Ontario Language Revitalization

·2 min read

The Ojibwe language strategy in Ontario, called Anishinaabemodaa is revitalizing Anishinaabe language throughout Ontario. This program works with all ages, from pre-school to post secondary, and beyond.

Anishinaabemodaa is a partnership between Rainy River School Board, Seven Generations Education Institute and SayITFirst.

SayITFirst is a community that uses technology and community participation to help First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people produce more fluent language speakers through programs and products, all online accessible.

"One thing we can do to change the erosion of language and culture is to digitize the older peoples' knowledge and incorporate it in a way that this information will get consumed by the younger generation," states Founder of SayITFirst, Mike Parkhill in a statement on their website.

Seven Generations is an Indigenous led educational organization that provides high school, post-secondary, and training to people in the Treaty Three area and beyond. They focus on lifelong learning and empowerment through Indigenous Language and Culture.

Resources for the Anishinaabemdaa program include 52 books, 23 language kits, and most recently, three new apps that are all accessible online.

Anishinaabemodaa is a dual approach to language revitalization, through providing Indigenous language teachers with programming and materials, as well as increasing the number of students starting young in formal Ojibwe language instruction.

Heather Campbell, director of education at Rainy River District School Board comments to APTN, “We advocated to the ministry of education that we needed something now. That students taking Ojibwe language as they proceed through high school need to see that as a significant aspect of their future, and of their careers, and of their post-secondary education,”

Brent Tookenay, President and member of Couchiching First Nation comments to APTN in an interview about the program, “being able to sit in a ceremony and understand what an elder is saying in the language, because literal translation of Anishinaabemowin, things are lost. You need to understand Anishinaabemowin in ceremony because there’s things lost when you translate that to english.”

The program has seen over 400 people participate in some way since 2017, and is set to rise considering the continued push and pressure for action on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 16: “We call upon post-secondary institutions to create university and college degree and diploma programs in Aboriginal languages.”

Stay with SaultOnline as we see how the initiative for Ojibwe language revitalization is happening within our community.

Josie Fiegehen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, SaultOnline.com