Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Students empowered through embracing traditional First Nations languages

By Morgan Modjeski

Metro Saskatoon

First Nations students from across Saskatoon gathered to celebrate and embrace their traditional languages on Monday at the second annual Love Your Language event.

A partnership between the city’s two school divisions and the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC), approximately 300 students converged on E.D. Feehan Catholic High School in Saskatoon to practice and preserve their indigenous tongues.

“The residential schools took away a lot of that motivation to speak our language and in fact, it was not only discouraged … it was chastised as being sinful or unholy,” said STC chief, Felix Thomas.

“So the language had to go underground to survive and now we’re saying that not only should you speak it, you should speak with pride.”

Bernadette Laliberte, a First Nations language consultant with the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools said First Nation people across Saskatchewan want their language to be maintained.

“Having events like this and celebrating the work that’s being done in the schools is something that we find to be really important,” she said.

“It gives the students an opportunity to come out and showcase what they’re doing, but it also shows everybody the work that’s being done for First Nation languages.”

Dean Newton, superintendent of education with Saskatoon Public Schools said maintaining traditional language is important to a diverse and welcoming student population.

“We’re open to all students and we want to create that sense of knowing who you are,” he said.

“We all come with a certain background, culture and history and we want that respected.”

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