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Friday, December 09, 2022

Canada’s Indigenous University students reconnect with their roots

Students at the Canadian Indigenous University of Cree—an Aboriginal language—placed posters and works of art on the walls, which were previously prohibited, and a tipi—conical tent—on the lawn of the study house, which serves as a former boarding School facilities where children from indigenous communities were abused, local officials reported today.

According to the 2016 Census of Statistics Canada, Cree is the most widely spoken Aboriginal language in the country, with over 96,000 speakers in Canada.

“They told me we weren’t good enough, that we were below everyone, and that I believed that for most of my life,” said former boarding school student Veronica Fraser.

The residential school was part of a system in which indigenous children were separated from their families and deprived of their culture and language, the AFP agency reported today.

At 130 boarding schools across the country, the goal was to “beat the Indian in the heart of the child”, said Fraser, who decided to return to the location that became Blue Quills University (Nuhelotin thiots’e nistmeimakanak) in 2015. ,

“I came here to regain my pride, to recover and learn,” he said.

Fraser is a graduate student in Nehiawevin (Cree language) at the University, and she said her studies helped her reconnect with her roots and she hopes to be able to speak the language fluently with her children and grandchildren. Is.

About 200 kilometers northeast of the provincial capital, Edmonton, and near St. Paul, Alberta, is a century-old red brick building that was part of a wider network of Canadian schools.

By the 1990s, approximately 150,000 Indigenous, Inuit and Métis children were held in schools that were often run by the Catholic Church.

Thousands of minors are believed to have died of neglect and malnutrition.

In the past year, at least 1,300 unmarked graves have been discovered at these sites.

The province of Alberta was the one with the most apprenticeships, and this is where Pope Francis plans to apologize next week for the church’s role in that system.

Many parents did not give their children a language to protect them from abuse or because they forgot their mother tongue after going through public schools.

Currently, this university has about 250 students enrolled to study economics, sociology, Cree and Dene languages ​​as well as cultural practices.

Paul’s boarding school began in 1970 with protests from parents demanding that they be given control over their children’s education.

Before becoming a university, the boarding school became Canada’s first Aboriginal community-run school through an agreement with the federal government.

“We’re recovering what was stolen,” says Wayne Jackson, head of the Cree language program.

“Our heritage, our language, our culture, our customs, our stories,” he said.

Despite this, it is endangered, as most of them are older, jeopardizing the continuity of oral transmission.

“It is enough that a generation of speakers do not speak a language to lose it,” concluded Jackson. (Telam)

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