Thunder Bay

Lakehead University makes new commitment to support Indigenous languages

Thunder Bay’s Lakehead University has made a 10-year commitment to support Indigenous languages.

'It’s beautiful to actually see, you know, this dream coming into reality,' says Vicki Monague

Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., has made a new 10-year commitment to support Indigenous languages on campus. (Lakehead University)

Thunder Bay's Lakehead University has made a 10-year commitment to support Indigenous languages.

The university said the plan will reaffirm its commitment to working with Indigenous communities to revitalize their languages and preserve their culture.

Vicki Monague, a Lakehead graduate student and a founder of the United Nations Decade of Indigenous Languages working group, said she has advocated for more Indigenous language programming at the university since 2018.

"It's beautiful to actually see, you know, this dream coming into reality," she told CBC News. "Because I never thought I would see it."

Monague said Lakehead has identified five priorities to focus on for its 10–year commitment to support Indigenous languages. They are providing academic opportunities, research and innovation, community engagement, the environment and an international solidarity network.

She said those five priorities will help them support fully fluent Indigenous language-speaking communities.

Lakehead currently teaches three Indigenous languages – Oji-cree, Cree and Ojibwe – along with four Ojibwe dialects: Eastern, Northern, Southwestern and Western.

Denise Baxter, Lakehead's vice-provost of Indigenous initiatives, said the plan unveiled this week was created in 2019 when the university worked with partners like Confederation College to support Indigenous language revitalization.

On the campus, Baxter said there will be more signs posted in Indigenous languages. 

She said there are also plans to create high-quality recordings of Indigenous language speakers to help preserve the languages.

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