A blanket ceremony held Wednesday, January 23 honoured longtime University of Winnipeg Indigenous language instructors Ida Bear and Annie Boulanger, for their commitment to teaching Indigenous languages.
“They have been instrumental in teaching Ojibway and Cree here at The University of Winnipeg,” said Indigenous Academic Lead Lorena Fontaine. “We are very honoured and privileged to have them, and so grateful for the work they’ve done for us. It is also a great honour to have elders from Manitoba Aboriginal Languages Strategy here to assist with the ceremony.”
Students, faculty, staff, community members, and elders filled the fifth floor atrium of the library for this event, which included an Anishinaabemowin reading and discussion, a display of Anishinaabemowin library materials, and a feast. In addition to readings by Bear and Boulanger, one of their students shared a reading, saying, “this room is powerful, what we are doing shows our ancestors how much we respect what they’ve preserved for us.”
The blanket ceremony kicks off a series of events that will take place in 2019, International Year of Indigenous Languages, and is part of a larger series produced in partnership by UWinnipeg, Six Seasons of the Asiniskow Ithiniwak Project, and Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre.
The United Nations declared 2019 The Year of Indigenous Languages to help preserve Indigenous languages and safeguard the rights of those who speak them.