Qalipu First Nation is please to announce a funding contribution of $544,000 from the department of Canadian Heritage for the delivery of Mi’kmaw Language programing for members of its community and beyond.
After introducing Mi’kmaw language to about 60 people two years ago, roughly 150 last year, Qalipu First Nation Mi’kmaw Language Revival Program is poised to serve 180 learners this year. It is expected that demand will be well over that mark, but some cap needs to be in place with current staffing levels.
“We received written support from the Mi’kmaw Grand Council, the Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief, and exit feedback from our participants was overwhelmingly positive” says Dean Simon, Mi’kmaw Language Facilitator for QFN (now permanent position with Qalipu). For the first time, Qalipu used an in-house teacher, with fluent supervisors, to catch any errors and to expand on topics that arose. Mr. Simon says this was important to establish credibility.
The programs’ goal is to introduce the language to as many people as possible while building a core of fluent speakers in the next 3-5 years, who will have the capacity to create other fluent speakers, teaching it forward. To this end, this year and next year the Qalipu program will select prospective teaching assistants to travel to Unama’ki (Cape Breton) for a 2 week preliminary immersion experience.
“I am looking forward to going back as well because my 2 years in Unama’ki required working in English 90% of the day to self-fund my learning, and ultimately detracted from my immersion”.
This year’s virtual offering will expand from 5 weeks to 10 weeks, with learner support throughout the whole year. Another deliverable in next 2 years is to source and develop resources for youth from Pre-school to High School, and to work with the QFN Education Department to distribute those resources and provide training for teachers.
Simon completed a course called Language Reclamation Methods, at the University of Southern Maine during the past year and will bring the shared experiences of indigenous classmates from all over north America to this year’s offering. “We are not the only people who have lost a language and work hard to bring it back.”
“I am very optimistic that Mi’kmaw will be heard again in Newfoundland.”