Students will now be able to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree, not just a diploma, in Ogwehoweh languages from the Six Nations Polytechnic Aboriginal Institute in Ohsweken, the province announced today.

It's the first time the province has allowed an Aboriginal Institute, which are run and governed completely by indigenous leaders, to offer a degree program.

The news lines up with a recommendation from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission — that post-secondary institutions create degree programs in indigenous languages.

Reza Moridi, the province's Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, says the change allows several things to happen: 

  • Helps promote and protect Ogwehoweh (Cayuga and Mohawk) languages.
  • Makes it possible for students to complete their degree at one institution, closer to home.
  • Helps students build on language and cultural knowledge and skills.
  • Expands student opportunities for jobs.

"Language preservation and protection are at the core values of Six Nations Polytechnic," said Rebecca Jamieson, the school's president, in a press release.

The current diploma program has been offered in partnership with McMaster University.

In the below photo, Six Nations Polytechnic president Rebecca Jamieson is holding a small replica of a drum. Ministers Reza Moridi and David Zimmer are holding a replica of the Covenant Chain wampum belt given by the school to "commemorate the friendships created," according to Chelsey Johnson, communications director for the school. 

Rick Hill, in the middle, is a senior coordinator at the Deyohaha:ge Indigenous Knowledge Centre, and he was holding a replica of the Two Row wampum belt. 

Ceremony to announce new degree program at Six Nations

Province and school officials attended an event Monday to announce the new degree program. From left to right: Dave Levac, MPP; Rebecca Jamieson, President of Six Nations Polytechnic; Reza Moridi, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities; David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs; Rick Hill, Deyohahage Coordinator; Ava Hill, Chief, Six Nations Elected Council; Tom Deer, Language Instructor. (Chelsey Johnson/Six Nations Polytechnic)