Rainy River District School Board, Seven Generations Education Institute, and SayITFirst partnered to implement the Ojibwe Language Strategy Anishinaabemodaa in 2017, with the main goal of helping to awaken the language that has seen fewer and fewer speakers over time.
The official launch of the Ojibwe Language Strategy yesterday will put Anishinaabemowin back into the hands of the Anishinaabe people.
The initiative is a two-pronged approach, designed to provide Indigenous language teachers at the same time as increasing the numbers of students beginning schooling and formal Anishinaabemowin instruction.
The Ojibwe Language Strategy looks to create and promote four designated pathways focused on language—families who want to teach their children the languages, students of all ages who want to learn Anishinaabemowin, individuals who want a career as a teacher or an Early Childhood Educator, and individuals who want to pursue other careers where knowledge of Anishinaabemowin is beneficial.
“By working together, we hope to address the increasing issue across the province of a teacher shortage, especially, teachers of Indigenous languages and teachers of Indigenous descent. It's important for our students to learn Anishinaabemowin—to their identity and to their success,” said Heather Campbell, director of education, Rainy River District School Board.
“The Ojibwe Language Strategy is built on the foundational support from our 10 First Nation communities of the Rainy River District,” said Brent Tookenay, CEO of Seven Generations Education Institute.
“The Elders and leadership from the communities are the driving force behind the strategy and will continue to set the direction for future generations. The language and knowledge that is provided by our Elders are the key elements to help young Anishinaabe people identify as an Anishinaabe person,” he added.
“In order to attain conversational fluency in one's ancestral language, one needs to spend 20 hours per week for three years. All we do is help people get there, they do the rest,” said SayITFirst founder Mike Parkhill.