We Are All Treaty People

Learning a Language

  • Published - 10/10/2019
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  • Posted By - OTC
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The Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan, Mary Culbertson, is learning more about her Indigenous language – she is signed up to take Nakwé through a program at the Hugh Cairns V.C. School in Saskatoon.

“I don’t have access to fluency in our home. My mom speaks the language and I am fortunate when I do get to hear my relatives or elders speak. Many people’s parents and grandparents did not want to pass on the language for fear of retribution. Today I crave to learn my language,” Mary said.

“I feel my heart being connected when I hear my language. I speak very little, some, but not fluent.”

That is going to change.

The school along with the First Nations, Inuit, Métis Education Unit of Saskatoon Public Schools partnered with the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre, and the Office of the Treaty Commissioner to offer language and cultural classes.

It is International Year of Languages, and a time when we are all working towards reconciling past wrongs that happened to Indigenous people. To create positive change, it is vital for education systems to have resources that people impacted by the legacy of residential schools can access to be able to assist in recovery and preservation of the languages that have been so drastically impacted. There are not many Saulteaux Nations in these territories and yet so many of us from these bloodlines live in these urban areas, she said.

“My mom would always tell me when I was younger how they would get punished for speaking their language in school and today we have many of our schools embracing our languages and through programs just like this, our languages will be still spoken with pride,” Mary said.