WORDS, WORDS, WORDS!
FUTURE LANGUAGE KEEPERS
A big boshoo from DAREarts artist/teachers Linda, Cathy and now, Lee Pham who just arrived safely from Toronto. It was snowing and blowing all day and Lee landed on the only plane to arrive today. He brought some tasty Lunar New Year treats to share with us for dinner, and I’m enjoying a delectable coconut candy as I speak. Chuc mung nam moi…is that right, Lee? Vietnamese is a beautiful language. Tomorrow Lee will begin dance classes with the students.
This morning we played some more theatre games and then got right down to the painting and planning paintings. The idea is to have one image visible to the eye under normal light, and another image appear once it’s under the black light. Love was the theme and the kids liked the idea of a secret message hiding behind the obvious.
These are some of the words that the kids will incorporate in their stories. They’re in Anishninimowin, or Oji-cree. There are books in this library, in syllabics. The language here is losing the battle with English but there are wonderful people like Wendy Coaster, our language teacher,who is as usual, helping to keep the words alive.
There is pride steeped in these words, from generations of speakers. The kids don’t realize this yet, but they’re the keepers of something precious. As we all know, a language lost in our own lives is a sad thing. No matter where we come from, we have a mother language from somewhere. How many of us bemoan the fact that we no longer speak the ancient Irish language, or Acadian French, or a regional Italian, or one of the vast number of languages and dialects from Africa, Asia, South America, Northern Europe? How wonderful that there’s an effort to instil that pride in our Northern Aboriginal kids’ beautiful languages.
There’s also a great effort all across Canada to work with language keepers. DAREarts artists have been getting lessons in Cree, Ojibwey, Mi’kmaq, Oji-cree, and we hope to learn words from many more. It does us much good to try on new words.
The students are working on the Grandfather Teaching of Love. They’re young, so there are all kinds of love that they can explore besides romantic love. The words that they came up with in our “Word Tree” include family…love of Mother Earth…our Elders… friends…community, and, as usual, love of hockey, video games, camping and fun.
Where it gets FUN is when they start into the story. I don’t want to give it all away just yet. But it does include a space ship, garbage, a flood disaster and stinky marshmallows.