For more than a century, Canada’s residential school system separated Indigenous children from their families and communities. The impact of this policy of forced assimilation was the devastation of communities from coast to coast to coast. Broken people, broken families and broken communities are the legacy of this brutal practice.
One of the most tangible expressions of culture and group identity is language. Knowing one’s ancestral language has been shown to increase self esteem, health and well-being in children and adults. The daily loss of the older generation makes the task of saving and re-teaching these languages a critical one.
We have partnered with the Institute of Cultural Affairs Canada and Mishko Bimaadziwin on a pilot project working with young Indigenous children to rebuild the use of languages through our project C-I-LEARN, (Children’s Indigenous Language Education, Activity, Resources and Nurturing Project), Bimadji Aawasowin (Ojibway: the act of saving children).
Save the Children Partners with C-I-LEARN to:
- Create new curriculum, programs and training models to support Indigenous language development
- Hold language learning events with Indigenous children and families in their home communities
- Provide training, work materials and support to program staff, family members and community leaders
- Increase knowledge, confidence and expertise in using language resources to implement new programs.
C-I-LEARN Accomplishments (2012 – 2013):
- Developed and implemented curriculum and training models to support Indigenous language development in 10 communities in Ontario
- Hosted language learning events for Indigenous children and their families to increase their knowledge and confidence in the use of Indigenous language resources
- Provided training, multi-media teaching resources, online forums and support to over 500 program staff, family members and community leaders
- Raised awareness about Indigenous language resources and provided access to Indigenous language resources to approximately 2,760 children and adults
- Engaged with approximately 10,792 new Indigenous language learners at language conferences.
Communities express hope:
- 100% of training participants said they learned new language learning ideas;
- 83% of participants indicated that they will use this training within their communities
How you can help
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“When you take away a child’s language, you take away their identity. We need to give them back their identity."
~ Freda McDonald, Ojibway Elder and Residential School Survivor