Sask. Rivers excited for growth of Indigenous Language programming

The Sask Rivers Education Centre/ Daily Herald File Photo

Trustees got a good look at the growth and success of Indigenous language programming during the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board of education meeting on Monday.

Superintendent Jennifer Hingley outlined the progress for the board during the meeting. The division is getting strong support from a number of provincial organizations, which helps boost their language program offerings.

“This is exciting in terms of the development of the programs, with the partnership with Metis Nation-Saskatchewan and the Michif programs at Queen Mary and at St. Louis,” education director Robert Bratvold said. “They have been just fantastic in terms of the support from Metis Nation-Saskatchewan, but also from the support within staff and families.”

Bratvold said the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 12, 13 and 14 guides Saskatchewan Rivers in its work to promote Indigenous Languages and the support of partners and the community strengthens that work according to the division. 

He explained the differences in the programs included that the program at Queen Mary School is Northern Michif while in St. Louis it is St. Louis heritage Michif, which is specific to that community. 

“The language support there supports the community and to me that’s a fabulous thing,” Bratvold said. “It’s really localized and really meets the needs of the community.”

The concept is more of a language nest which helps to spur growth and build culture.

“Obviously in Kindergarten you are not going to develop fluent Michif speakers, but you are going to create an environment where the language acquisition is supported,” he explained. “They can become comfortable and curious and inspired, so it’s a great environment, (and) great culture to support those Indigenous languages.

Hingley reported the success of the Cree Language Program at John Diefenbaker and the plans to expand it to include Grade 2 starting next fall. Bratvold said that the news was exciting and there are plans to celebrate the news in the coming weeks.

“Expanding that (program) into Grade 2, that is a great opportunity,” he said. “For those kids who have been in there since Kindergarten (and) who are now in Grade 1, (they) have the opportunity to pursue that into Grade 2 Cree Language program at John Diefenbaker. It is just a great opportunity that’s again meeting community and family needs and it’s nice to be part of.”

Bratvold added a strong staff has also helped boost the program.

“The students who are in the program and their families know how fantastic the teacher and support staff and elders connected to these programs are, but it is nice that the rest of our community knows that too,” he said. “Those teachers and staff and elders and knowledge keepers they are just doing amazing work to support that language culture programs in the schools.”