kón dháredi




Lewis, Danita

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Indigenous languages are disappearing at an alarming rate and many face the risk of extinc-tion. In the recent past, Canada implemented language policies and laws aiming to eradicate Indigenous languages and cultures thus putting them at risk of extinction. In 2019, Nation-al Chief Perry Bellegarde spoke to the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa on this subject, “Our languages connect us all to our ceremonies, to our lands, to our waters and to our right to self-determination as Indigenous peoples, we want our chil-dren to grow up with these rich and beautiful languages.” (p.1) Oral tradition has been in place since before the creation of time. Indigenous people in Canada come from this tradi-tion, their language being the primary tool for daily communication and holding within it a connection to the land, ancestors, memory, and identity. Orality is dynamic as it holds liv-ing memories and serves to transmit knowledge and beliefs, as well as maintains historical records and sustains culture and identity. Dënesųłiné language, like every Indigenous lan-guage in Canada, faces extinction. Canadian educators are now doing the complex and emotional work of Language Revitalization. Decolonizing, Indigenizing and reconciling are parts of the process. This project explores the importance of orality for the Dënesųłiné (pronounced as Den-a-sooth-leh-na), of the Athabaskan language family. This project is a unit plan devel-oped with the guidance of elders, knowledge keepers and fluent language speakers of Łuechok Túe. The unit plan serves to bridge the knowledge between a Euro western system and the many ways of knowing with Canada’s Indigenous people, namely the Dënesųłiné. The research was guided by a Dënesųłiné framework supported by community members and fluent Dënesųłiné language speakers. The author is not fluent in Dënesųłiné; however, she shares the same goal of her home community to use education to “create speakers, and to re-establish Denesųłiné as the first language on Cold Lake First Nations.” This paper outlines the process of working collaboratively from a distance with fluent Dënesųłiné lan-guage speakers with the goal of creating a resource that can be used in the public school system to meet the requirements mandated by the BC Ministry of Education with whom the researcher is employed as a public school teacher. The research uses the important teach-ings, ceremony, culture, Dënesųłiné language and worldview obtained through interviews with fluent Dënesųłiné language and culture carriers. This unit plan is intended to be shared as a resource for her own community but also to be shared within the public school district where she is employed so that others may understand the importance of language, culture and traditions while taking into account the impacts of colonization. This fosters understanding and a supportive learning atmosphere built upon encouragement and hu-mour, while recognizing that working on language revitalization is a healing journey.



language revitalization, oral tradition, Athabaskan, ceremony, culture, colonization