A total of 11 Peace Wapiti Public School Division students in Grades 7 and 8 are taking part in a virutal course to learn the Cree language.
School officials say while they have had formal teachings of the language in recent years, primarily limited to Hythe Regional School, the offer was made across the board after a student advocated for himself to be able to take a Cree language course rather than French.
“Residential schools attempted to take all culture from First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Peoples and that included language,” says Jackie Benning with PWPSD Indigenous Education Services. “Children were punished for speaking in their Indigenous tongue and families were shamed for teaching the language.”
Benning says disconnect from language is very real for many intergenerational survivors, there are great strides being made in reclaiming it.
“This language reclamation journey is a true act of reconciliation as it takes the collaboration of administrators, teachers, librarians, families, and most importantly, learners to make this possible. We are so proud of these students for being leaders in language reclamation and for demonstrating their resilience each day,” Benning adds.