Sask. offer Nakoda language courses to high school students


Nakoda language classes will be offered to high school students in Saskatchewan starting in the fall.

The province announced earlier this week that classes will be available at levels 10, 20 and 30, and will be offered in addition to classes in four other Indigenous languages ​​currently offered: Cree (nēhiyawēwin), Nakawe, Dene and Michif. .

He said the program was developed by Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation, also known as Cegakin Nakoda Nation, and was previously offered as a locally developed course. It was created with language experts and knowledge keepers working together in the community, and the First Nation requested that it be offered provincially.

Nakoda is the traditional language of the Nakoda people, who are represented across Saskatchewan in the Carry the Kettle, Ocean Man, Pheasant Rump, White Bear and the Mosquito, Grizzly Bear’s Head, and Lean Man First Nations.

Vincent Collette is a Nakoda language researcher in Regina. He worked closely with the Carry the Kettle First Nation to write a manual and dictionary to preserve the dying language.

He also taught Nakoda at the First Nations University of Canada for four years.

“When I was called in to work on Nakoda, there was already a momentum going,” he said. “Mostly young people, they were struggling to find a platform or something to start the movement.”

He said the community has lost most of the fluent elders and there are hardly any fluent speakers left. He said that preserving their traditional language is very important to the Nakoda people.

“The Nakoda language is sort of the backbone of their culture… With all the atrocities that happened with the residential schools and the loss of the language, it really means everything to regain the language,” he said. declared.

“There are things that just cannot be expressed in English.”

“The heart of who we are as a people”

Chad O’Watch has been a teacher at Nakoda Oyade Education Center High School in Cegakin Nakoda Nation for nine years. He said that after graduating from school in 2006, he did not have the opportunity to learn his traditional language at school.

“I knew for a long time that this was a job that had to be done,” he said. “It has always been the goal of many of our language speakers and leaders to have our Nakoda language offered from… [kindergarten] up to [Grade] 12. “

O’Watch said residential schools are a big reason the language is dying.

“Unfortunately, we have yet to pick up the pieces and put the pieces together that we can,” he said.

O’Watch said that thanks to researchers and linguists, such as Collette, the community has elders’ records and recordings to help preserve the language.

“The core of who we are as a people and our traditions are all rooted in our language,” he said.

He said children in the community are in search of their culture and when given the opportunity to learn more, they often have a desire to learn more.

“They are hungry for all of these things that make who they are as Nakoda, and they realize that a lot of the issues that we deal with as First Nations people can be helped by acquiring the language,” he said. he declared. .

The Afternoon Edition – Sask10:19Revitalize the Nakoda language through high school classes

When some Saskatchewan high school students return to class in the fall, they will have the opportunity to learn the Nakoda language. Host Garth Materie chats with Chad O’Watch, a high school teacher at the Nakoda Oyade Education Center in Cegakin Nakoda Nation, about how he helped implement the course province-wide. 10:19

The provincial government said in a statement that the new agenda aligns with calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which identify the importance of Indigenous languages.

O’Watch said that while this is a step in the right direction towards reconciliation, he expects problems to arise over the lack of teachers in the province to properly teach the subject.

Training may be needed at the university level, “or some type of mentoring that will need to take place,” he said.

“The best reconciliation that can happen is for our people to regain what they lost in this cycle of residential schools.


Sylvester L. Goldfarb

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