By Kelly Crawford
Anishinaabemowin Wiigwaam #1 took place in Espanola, Ontario on March 20 to 23.
“The learners came from all directions, driving far to get here, all because the language so much. They travelled from New Credit, Ottawa, Wausauksing, Genaabajing, Toronto, Six Nations and Wikwemikong,” explains Christi Belcourt.
Miigwanaabeqwe (Jessica Benson) shared the importance of learning the language and participating in events like the Anishinaabemowin Wiigwaam.
“When I think about most of the people that I know that are fluent, they are much older than I am, I always wonder what is going to happen when they pass away. Who is going to be left to speak the language?” She explained that she was taught it was the Elders job to pass on the language and that if they have no one to teach the language to it becomes a burden on them. “I am honoured and humbled in being able to unload that burden for them.”
Participant Nancy Rowe shared her thoughts of the experience.
“Those young people lifted me up. It is nice to see these young people speak so well in our language. I didn’t grow up in my language and didn’t raise my children in my language. The most beautiful thing here is listening to the young people speaking in the language and engaging with the Elders. It gives me a lot of hope for our language in the future,” explained Rowe.
The weekend was supported by teachers and Elders who joined the group at various times. In attendance were Mary Ann Corbiere, Jessie Hardisty, Jeannie, Peter Stoneypoint, Martina Osawamick, Christine Pheasant, Barbara Nolan, Margaret, Stanley Peltier, Sharla Peltier, Georgina Nahwegahbo, Lynzii Taibossigai, Nancy Debassige and Ray Jackson.
“We are having a lot of fun at the Anishinaabemowin house. It is really hard to learn Anishinaabemowin, but more and more people are helping us out. I am thankful for the Elders and young people that are helping us out, shared Mskwaankwad Mnoomnii, “They are doing another language house in Rama on May 8 to 10”.
The Rama Anisihnaabemowin Wiigwaam registration and information can be found at http://ramaanishnaabemowinwiigwaam.weebly.com/.
Anishinaabemowin Wiigwaam was organized by Taryn Erika Skye Pelltier, Aasinii Zwaasniing and Christi Belcourt. The weekend long gathering was an experience for participants to immerse themselves in Anishinaabemowin.
Organizers hope that others will plan similar immersion events. Belcourt explained that the details of the event operated under open and transparent guidelines. “If anyone wants to host an Anishinaabemowin Wiigwaam in their community they can get some ideas from what we did. In total the weekend cost was $1751.38”. A small price to pay with big rewards. Giigididaa! (Let’s Speak!)
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org, This was organized without government funding by Taryn Pelletier, Isaac Murdoch and Christi Belcourt. Donations welcome.