While speaking to parliament on November 29, Winnipeg Centre MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette applauded The University of Winnipeg’s commitment to preserving Indigenous languages.
Ouellette recalled a meeting he had with UWinnipeg President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Annette Trimbee, when he was elected in 2015, at which she shared the University’s desire to expand Indigenous language training.
He also spoke highly of UWinnipeg’s intensive two-week Learn Ojibwe Course, which was launched in 2017 by the Department of Indigenous Studies and funded by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and Indigenous Services Canada.
“The program is designed to teach beginner and intermediate Ojibwe and involves classroom and field work,” Ouellette told parliament. “The field work is held at the Medicine Eagle Camp and includes traditional teaching on medicine, beading, and drumming.”
Ouellette thanked many UWinnipeg faculty and staff for their continued work to preserve Indigenous languages, specifically crediting Dr. Lorena Fontaine (associate professor and Indigenous Academic Lead) for her work to develop a certification program.
“She (Fontaine) was working with the Manitoba Aboriginal Languages Strategy, Red River College, with Rebecca Chartrand, the University College of the North, the University of Manitoba, and the Manitoba provincial government to develop a certification program for aboriginal language speakers who are not teachers.”
UWinnipeg undergraduate student Cameron Lozinski was also recognized for his work developing an app to make his ancestral language — Swampy Cree — more accessible.
Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre was highlighted and acknowledged for their free weekly community programming, which includes an Ojibwe class.
“This is extremely important,” Ouellette said of UWinnipeg’s work in the classroom and community. “All of these individuals have had a role in trying to get our languages to survive.”
Read more about UWinnipeg’s initiatives to help preserve Indigenous languages.