Saskatoon students get unique approach to learning Cree
Students are being given a chance to learn the Cree language in Saskatoon schools thanks to a University of Saskatchewan program.
They learn Cree in science class by using a star chart.
“It’s looking at it from different angle so we’re able to combine Indigenous languages with a science lesson,” Cree Longjohn, science outreach coordinator, told CTV News.
The U of S program brings Indigenous teachings to the elementary science classroom. One of the main components is teaching Plains Cree.
“Symbols correlate to a sound in Cree so the science part comes in where the students use the star chart as a key or cypher to unlock a code of syllabics,” Longjohn said.
Instructors go into 40 classrooms around the city engaging both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students with. One thousand students have taken part this year.
Micaela Champagne is one of the science outreach instructors and is taking her masters in archeology.
She says being a role model for students is rewarding.
“I think this program is one of the most amazing things to happen in Saskatoon because it really is giving them a taste of the different aspects of science,” Champagne says.
The science outreach program has been running for more than 10 years with the goal of opening doors for students who might want to get into the sciences after high school.
“I’ve had students come up to me after class or on our last day of the program and tell me how much they want to go to university,” Champagne said.
Longjohn and Champagne see endless possibilities with their program, hoping it gives more students the chance to learn Indigenous languages.
“Being a part of this has brought so much pride and its actually encouraged me to learn more of my native language from my mushum and kokum,” Champagne says.
With some of the Cree dialects such as Michif at risk of being lost, this pair credits the program with providing hope that their language will be found again by young students.