Indigenous Languages

In the summer of 2015, the Office of First Nation and Metis Relations, U of S, initiated discussions with UVic to deliver the Master’s Degree in Indigenous Language Revitalization program in Saskatchewan. In the spring of 2016, the University of Victoria was granted an exemption from the Degree Authorization Act of Saskatchewan to deliver the MILR program in Saskatchewan. Following the exemption, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between UVic and U of S. This program began in July 2016 and students will complete the program in June 2018. The MILR program is delivered through the Office of First Nation and Metis Relations at the English River First Nation Business Complex in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Currently, the MILR program at UVic is the only graduate program in Indigenous Language Revitalization in Canada. The program is being delivered in Saskatchewan “to ensure a generation of language experts will have the language and academic skills to participate and lead successful language revitalization efforts in Indigenous communities, and to develop language scholars who will have the expertise to support post-secondary instruction in the revitalization, recovery and maintenance of Indigenous Languages” (University of Victoria, 2016).

Historic Wanuskewin Heritage Park was the perfect place for Joan Greyeyes to take the new class of graduate students in Indigenous Language Revitalization for a welcoming ceremony to begin their master’s program this summer.


Biographies

The following biographies are of the students who are in the Graduate Certificate and Master’s Degree in Indigenous Language Revitalization (MILR) program.

Darlene Arcand

Darlene is a First Nations woman from the Muskeg lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. She currently works for the Greater Saskatoon Catholic School system in Saskatoon, SK. Darlene completed a Bachelor of Education at the University of Saskatchewan. The Cree language has always been important to her, she has strived to build on it and learn from others. Darlene believes that Indigenous people need to reclaim their languages and their ways of knowing and learning. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Bob Badger

Robert (Bob) Badger is from Kawacatoose First Nation. Bob is the Cultural/Resource Coordinator for the University of Saskatchewan. Bob was raised by his grandparents and learned the traditional practices of the Saulteaux people. Bob completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Regina. He is currently working on his Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Jackie Buffalo

Jackie has been teaching for 18 years. She is currently teaching in her home community of Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation. She is the Middle Years Literacy Catalyst and Student Services Teacher. She has had the great opportunity to collaborate with the kindergarten to grade 8 teachers from St. Frances Cree Bilingual School in Saskatoon. She has worked together to create and develop a Plains Cree curriculum in the ‘Y’ dialect. Jackie is married to a wonderful man from Whitecap Dakota, together they have four children and two grandchildren. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Laura Burnouf

Laura is originally from Beauval, SK which is a Metis Cree community located in northwestern Saskatchewan. She is fluent in both Michif and Cree languages and is a Faculty member teaching in the Northern Teacher Education Program in La Ronge. She has taught at numerous elementary schools in northern Saskatchewan. Laura teaches Cree, Social Studies methods and Education Professional studies courses for the NORTEP program. She has taught for two summers at CILLDI (Canadian Indigenous languages and literacy Development Institute) at the University of Alberta. In 2005, Laura completed a Masters of Education Degree in Elementary Education at the University of Alberta in the area of language arts and culture. She was a part of the first group that attended CILLDI in 2000. Since then she has worked in Indigenous language revitalization and has always has been an advocate in this area.

She intends to work in her home community of Beauval working in the Michif language and is presently planning her project in this area. She is a strong advocate for the arts, language and culture in the community and plays guitar and piano and sings in the Cree language. These skills come in handy through various revitalization events such as language festivals and classroom presentations. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Anna Carriere

Anna Carriere is a fluent Cree speaker and has been teaching for 27 years. Anna has been teaching in a bilingual Cree language program for many years. One of her dreams is that her community of Swampy Cree speakers will continue to see the value that Indigenous languages have and will be able to pass the language on to younger generations until all children are proudly speaking Cree. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Amanda Cross

Amanda is a Plains Cree woman from the Frog Lake First Nation in Alberta, Treaty 6 territory. Amanda is currently teaching with the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She has a passion for keeping her First Nations language alive for future generations to follow. Amanda completed her B. Ed from the University of Saskatchewan. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Pamela Fosseneuve

Pam is from Cumberland House, and she currently teaches at St Francis School in Saskatoon. She is enjoying this program and all the information it entails… all members from her cohort are from different regions and they come with so much knowledge! Pam is completing her M. Ed Degree in Indigenous Language Revitalization with the University of Victoria. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Helen Garvin

Helen is from the Red Earth First Nations in northeastern Saskatchewan. She is a Swampy Cree fluent speaker, maskekowinehiyawiskow, from Treaty 5 area in SK. The Cree language in the “y” dialect is our first language; we are one of the very last reserves, if not the last in Canada, where everyone speaks Cree especially the children. Helen doesn’t want her community to lose their language; she wants members to retain and maintain our Cree language because she notices the younger generation is beginning to use English over Cree and it is becoming evident in the schools. This is why she is in this program. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Laura Grant

Laura is from Tehachapi, a small town among the oaks at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada, with the Mojave Desert to the east and the San Joaquin Valley to the west. This is the homeland of the Nuwa, also called Kawaiisu. She is among a group of second-language learners and teachers of nuwa abigip (Kawaiisu). Her teachers are Elders Luther Girado, Lucille Hicks and previously Bettygeep Hernandez. Since 1997, Laura has assisted Indigenous communities visualize and then set up language revitalization projects and programs. She also provides training in immersion teaching techniques and curriculum development through the Kawaiisu Language and Cultural Center, the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival and the Indigenous Language Institute. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Malvina Iron

Malvina Iron is from the Canoe Lake First Nation. She is currently living in Saskatoon and working as a Teacher for Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools. Malvina’s first language is Cree and she writes using Standard Roman Orthography. She has completed both a Bachelor of Education and a Masters of Education Degree from the University of Saskatchewan. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Alexis McLeod

Alexis McLeod is from amacīwispimawin (Stanley Mission), a small Woodland Cree community in northern Saskatchewan. She is of Métis/Woodland Cree ancestry and introduces herself comfortably using, “tānsi, nītha ōma”. Alexis grew up in a Cree speaking community, as a child she would spend a lot of winters and summers at the trapline with her immediate and extended family. Her family life at the trapline consisted of hunting, trapping and fishing. Alexis’ first language is nīhithowīwin or Cree in the Woodland“th” dialect. She graduated from the Northern Teacher Education (Nortep/Norpac) in 2004. Alexis majored in Native Studies with a minor in English. She has been teaching for 13 years. Alexis has spent the majority of her teaching career in Cree Language/Culture. Alexis works at Oskāyak High School in Saskatoon. Alexis’ future goals are to be involved in First Nations Language preservation. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Randy Morin

Randy Morin is from the Big River First Nation, Treaty 6, located in central Saskatchewan. He lives in Saskatoon with her partner, Lindsay Knight aka (Eekwol) and three children. Randy has two daughters and one son. Randy has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Indigenous Studies from the University of Regina and a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Saskatchewan. Randy has a lifetime of traditional Plains Cree teachings. He is a fluent Plains Cree Speaker of the “y” dialect. Randy is an oskāpēwis (helper) for many knowledge keepers and Elders in and around the community. He thanks his grandparents and parents for teaching him the Cree language and to many others who continue to teach him about his language and culture. He is currently working on his Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Coreen Sakebow

Coreen Sakebow is from the Pelican Lake First Nation. Coreen and a fluent Cree speaker. She currently teacher at St. Francis School in Saskatoon. Coreen completed her Bachelor of Education at the University of Saskatchewan and is now completing her Master’s Degree in Indigenous Language Revitalization with the University of Victoria. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Heather Souter

Heather is a Michif (Metis) with roots in the Lac Ste. Anne and Edmonton area and some European-settler heritage. She is originally from Vancouver, BC, and has resided in the multilingual Metis/First Nations community of Camperville, Manitoba, since returning to Canada 14 years ago. She is conversant in Michif and is also learning Saulteaux and Plains Cree. In addition, she is fluent in English, Japanese and French. In addition to her language revitalization activism, she presently works as a intermediate care paramedic and holds a senior front-line position with the local health authority. Prior to this, she was a professional applied linguist for over 15 years, working as a freelance simultaneous international conference interpreter (Japanese and English) and teaching interpretation and translation at a post-secondary institution in Tokyo, Japan.

In 2003, Heather decided to return to Canada to lend her energy to the Indigenous language retention/revitalization movement and she has been a dedicated Metis languages advocate and activist ever since. She has attended the American Indian Language Development Institute at the University of Arizona, Canadian Indigenous Language and Literacy Development Institute (CILLDI) at the University of Alberta and taken graduate level courses in linguistics and linguistic anthropology at the Universities of Kansas and Lethbridge. She has developed Michif teaching and learning resources, co-written a beginners course in Michif and completed an index of “finals” (suffixes) for Michif. In 2012, Heather, together with Elder Grace Zoldy of Cameprville, she was invited to Edmonton to co-teach the first-ever university level course in Michif language and linguistics (with Olivia Sammons) for CILLDI. Heather's passion is community language development and empowerment. Her academic interests include applied linguistics, particularly adult second language learning; the morphosyntax and lexicography of Michif, Nakawe (Saulteaux) and Nehiyawewin (Cree); the relationship between language retention/revitalization and health and well-being; and Indigenous cultural safety in institutional and social contexts. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Dwayne Swiftwolfe

Dwayne Swiftwolfe is a fluent Cree speaker from the Moosemin First Nation. He is working is working for the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools and is a teacher at St. Francis School in Saskatoon. Dwayne completed his Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of Saskatchewan and is currently completing his Masters Degree in Indigenous Language Revitalization with the University of Victoria. Dwayne is currently working on his Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Lorna Thiessen

Lorna is Woodland Cree, she was born and raised in Molanosa, SSK where she continues to reside on her trap line which is the approximate geographical centre of Sask.). She has three adult children.

She has worked for 40 years in the human service field. Lorna owns a Thrift store in La Ronge, SK. Language revitalization has always been a desire for herself and her children; she is looking forward to helping her community bring back the Cree language. Lorna started university later in life and continued studying while raising her children as a single parent. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

Nora Wedzin

In the spring of 2014, the Chiefs Executive Committee of the Tłįchǫ Government nominated Nora Wedzin, the Manager of Continuing Care and Independent Living with the Tłįchǫ Community Services Agency in Behchokǫ̀, to the Cultural Coordinator position for 2014-2017. The Tłįchǫ Implementation Committee including representatives of the Tłįchǫ Government, the Government of Canada and the Government of the NWT appointed Ms. Wedzin to the position in September 2014.

Nora brings over thrity years of government program and service delivery experience to her role as the Cultural Coordinator. She has a degree in Social Work from the University of Regina and has worked in the Tłįchǫ communities as a social worker, a Child Protection Worker, a Medical Social Worker, a Manager of Child and Family Services, and most recently the Manager of Continuing Care and Independent Living. She also co-ordinated the Tłįchǫ Cosmology project in 2008 funded by the federal Aboriginal Health Transition Fund which sought to develop a Tłįchǫ cultural framework and apply it to the delivery of Child and Family Services in the NWT. This work led to the publication of a report to the GNWT Standing Committee on Social Programs’ Committee to Review the Child and Family Services Act. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree through the University of Victoria in Indigenous Language Revitalization. This program is presently being offered at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.