LLTC Faculty Brought Language from Canada

Feb 15th, 2004 | By | Category: 15-3: English Only?, Tribal College News

Leech Lake Tribal College works to preserve and promote the use of the area’s first language at the campus in Cass Lake, MN. The instructors – Wilfred Cyr, Helen Waasegiizhig, and Bob Jourdain – each grew up in Canada speaking the Anishinaabe language and therefore recognize the importance of keeping and sharing language. They have shifted the teaching focus to speaking through language immersion rather than on studying grammar and structure.

Wilfred Cyr was born at Nagaajiiwanaang First Nation in Canada. He is of the muskrat clan, the animal that saved humanity from the great flood, according to the Anishinaabe creation narrative. Cyr was captured at age 10 and placed with a white family and grew up mostly independently. He was first from his reserve to graduate from high school at Fort Frances, to graduate from Rainy River Community College, and to graduate from Bemidji State University. Cyr has a Master’s Degree in Algonquin Linguistics from the University of Manitoba.

Helen Waasegiizhig (Bright Sky/Bright Day) is from Manitoulin Island, Ontario, the Wiikwemikong First Nation. She is a teacher, linguist, art historian, poet, art curator, and visual artist. Presently, she is involved in curriculum writing, teaching methods using the arts, environmental activities, practicum teaching for teachers, and orthography at Leech Lake Tribal College.

Bob Jourdain is originally from Rainy Lake, Ontario, and grew up on Red Gut Bay, Nickickousiminicaning First Nation. Jourdain has lived on the Leech Lake Reservation for almost 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Indian Studies and English from Bemidji State University and is currently working on a master’s degree and on a collection of stories he would like to see published.

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