Saskatchewan high school students can start Nakoda language classes starting this fall


Saskatchewan high school students will be able to take Nakoda language classes starting this fall.

This is the fifth Aboriginal language course offered in high schools across the province, which also offers Cree, Nakawe, Dene and Michif.

The province said in a press release that the Nakoda language program was developed by Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation with language experts and knowledge keepers.

Chad O’Watch, a high school teacher from the First Nation, said the curriculum is a “dream come true”.

“The Nakoda language is in such a dangerous state,” he said on Monday. “We are on the verge of no longer having a Nakoda language.

“We believe as First Nations people that the language is inside of us, that it sleeps. Teaching the language will help awaken that language in all of us.

Nakoda is the traditional language of several First Nations in Saskatchewan, including Carry the Kettle, Ocean Man, Pheasant Rump, White Bear, Mosquito, Grizzly Bear’s Head, and Lean Man.

Louise BigEagle, a Regina filmmaker from the Ocean Man First Nation, made a short documentary in 2017 called “To Wake Up the Nakota Language” about her uncle Armand McArthur. He was one of the few fluent Nakoda speakers in southern Saskatchewan at the time.

“The Nakoda language is very sacred,” McArthur said in the documentary. “Nakoda culture is very sacred. When you don’t know your language and your culture, you don’t know who you are.

Prior to his death earlier this year, McArthur had taught Nakoda at the University of Regina.

BigEagle said his uncle would have been delighted to see the Nakoda language taught in high schools.

“The Nakoda language needs to be revived in Saskatchewan and across Canada because it is an important language for everyone,” she said. “Because of things that happened in the story, it was slowly starting to die out. The numbers are very low – it’s basically on the endangered languages ​​list in Canada.

BigEagle, who didn’t have the opportunity to learn the language as a child, said she was thrilled that a new generation had the chance to learn it in school.

“This is what I want to see,” she said. “I want to see more people take the initiative to have these classes.

“They should be taught from kindergarten, kindergarten, preschool, as soon as the kids are able to speak – because that’s how you’re really going to learn and maybe, hopefully, be able to speak fluently.

“Seeing this makes me happy because now everyone is taking these initiatives. They see the importance of Indigenous languages ​​like any other language in Canada.

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Sylvester L. Goldfarb

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