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UWinnipeg launches new Indigenous language certificates this fall

Newly developed certificates allow students to gain specific proficiencies in Indigenous Languages, Indigenous Language Revitalization, Indigenous Language Teaching, and Supporting Multilingualism and Indigenous Languages in Schools.

The University of Winnipeg is launching three new, Senate-approved Indigenous language certificates this fall.

With flexible delivery options that include online courses, these certificates provide a pathway for students who are not ready or able to commit to a full degree, or who wish to embed a specific Indigenous languages certificate into a current degree. 

These certificates complement the Bachelor of Arts, Indigenous languages major that launched last fall.

Having an Indigenous language program at The University of Winnipeg says to Indigenous people that our languages matter, that there is a place for them at a university.

Dr. Lorena Fontaine

“There are two main objectives to the Indigenous languages program at The University of Winnipeg,” said Dr. Lorena Fontaine, coordinator of UWinnipeg’s Indigenous languages program. “The first is to teach students who are interested in learning a local Indigenous language to become proficient. The second is for students to be provided a historical context to why Indigenous languages are endangered. We are not just looking to teach students how to speak the language but also to understand language revitalization locally and globally.”

“Indigenous language educators are key to revitalizing Indigenous languages. The new certificates support educators by providing training in how to teach in ways that motivate children to use the language amongst themselves, in their families and in their communities,” said Heather Souter of Prairies to Woodlands Language Revitalization Circle.

Indigenous Language Revitalization

This certificate provides an opportunity for students to gain interdisciplinary expertise in Indigenous Languages that focuses on language learning, revitalization, planning, and communication. Through core courses in Indigenous Studies and Linguistics, students grow as speakers of an Indigenous language and as capable proponents of Indigenous language revitalization. Graduates of the certificate program will join a growing community of people who are dedicated to, and have the skills to support, ongoing learning, speaking, researching, and teaching Indigenous languages, contributing to the revitalization of Indigenous languages.

Teaching Indigenous Languages for Vitality

This cohort-based certificate will prepare current and future language teachers to use culturally-informed, community-based and land-based methodologies to develop language immersion curricula and teach language courses that will result in increased home, family, and community usage of the taught language. Students will learn to evaluate methods, materials, and program designs in relation to their cultural authenticity and effectiveness in engaging students and building their communication skills in the taught language. The first cohort launches in September 2022. Visit the Teaching Indigenous Languages for Vitality website for more information.

Supporting Multilingualism and Indigenous Languages

This cohort-based certificate will prepare current and future educators, educational leaders, and other school staff to co-construct multilingual learning environments for the good of their multilingual and Indigenous students. Students will learn how languages are learned in the home, community, and school, and how this process can be best supported by cross-curricular and school-wide practices. Individuals working outside of the Indigenous classrooms will learn strategies and practices to effectively collaborate with Indigenous and language teacher colleagues to build and implement effective programs and support an overall climate of celebration of languages and cultures throughout the school community. The first cohort will launch in 2023.

These programs are designed especially for part-time students who wish to develop specific proficiencies in Indigenous Languages, Indigenous Language Revitalization, Indigenous Language Teaching, and Supporting Multilingualism and Indigenous Languages in Schools. Since the courses required for the certificates are also part of the Indigenous Languages thematic major, they can be used toward a 3-year or 4-year BA, or toward an integrated Bachelor of Education.

Frontier School Division – which has schools from Winnipeg to Northern Manitoba – has provided input into the certificate design, along with other community partners, and has committed to supporting 20 teachers, staff, and administrators to take the Teaching Indigenous Languages for Vitality or Supporting Multilingualism and Indigenous Languages certificate in 2022-2024.

“Having an Indigenous languages program at The University of Winnipeg says to Indigenous people that Indigenous languages matter and that there is a place for them at the University,” said Fontaine.

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