Roxanne Marten's grandfather inspired her to learn Ojibwe
Journey to reclaim her language includes creating children’s books in Ojibwe and teaching
When Roxanne Marten's grandfather was very ill and in the hospital, he started speaking fluently in Ojibwe. "I couldn't understand what he was saying," said Marten. "But he wouldn't answer anymore in English."
"It was really, really interesting for me to see him on his last days because the fluency of his language was like I've never seen that come out of his mouth," she said. "So that was really, really interesting and intriguing for me."
That's what inspired Marten to register in the Anishinaabemowin Program at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie.
Marten is an artist so she started in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program with all of her electives in Anishinaabemowin to regain her language and her culture.
"I had to jump into university-level Ojibwe just so that I could grasp it and hear it and kind of get more familiar with it, said Marten.
Her journey to reclaim her language has included creating children's books in Ojibwe and in Lac Seul with Teach for Canada, a non-profit organization that works with northern First Nations.
"We're trying to do more of a land-based approach with students going out on the land," she said. "I think we're trying to get away from that westernized way of teaching our children," she added.
"If we had more talking tables instead of math class," said Marten, "we would have tables talking about math, but talking about it in the language instead," said Marten.
"It really needs to be the two-way system between elders and now our youth and then the youth that come after us," she said.
With files from Waubgeshig Rice