Starting in September, school divisions will have another Indigenous language course that can be offered to high school students to expand their learning opportunities. The new provincial Nakoda courses will be available at the 10, 20 and 30 level starting in the 2021-22 school year.
The Nakoda curriculum is in addition to other Indigenous language courses already available provincially in Saskatchewan, specifically Cree (nēhiyawēwin), Nakawe, Dene and Michif at the 10, 20 and 30 levels.
"Our government is proud to support the preservation and growth of First Nations and Métis languages and cultural education in Saskatchewan schools," Education Minister Dustin Duncan said. "We recognize that incorporating Indigenous languages, cultures and perspectives is essential to the engagement and success of all students in understanding our country's history."
This new curriculum aligns with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action and the Inspiring Success: First Nations and Métis PreK-12 Education Policy Framework, which identify the importance of Indigenous languages and the significant role they play in preserving cultural traditions, knowledge and history.
The Nakoda curriculum was developed by Cegakin Nakoda Nation, also known as Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation, and was previously offered as a locally developed course. The course has been developed with linguistic experts and knowledge keepers engaged by the First Nation. It has become a provincial course at the request of the First Nation.
"The curriculum is literally a dream come true," Cegakin Nation's Nakoda Oyade Education Centre high school teacher Chad O'Watch said. "The Nakoda language is in such a dangerous state. We're on the verge of not having a Nakoda language anymore. We believe as First Nations people that the language is inside of us, that it's sleeping. Teaching the language will help awaken that language in all of us."
"Residential schools took away a lot, not only our language but our teachings from our elders," Cegakin Nation elder Clyde O'Watch said. "When you take any language and try to interpret it into English, we lose a whole lot of meaning. So when we pray - the Creator, we say Adé Waką́tąga- but when we translate, we lose a whole lot of meaning to that. Our language is so important to us."
Nakoda is the traditional language of the Nakoda people, who are represented in Saskatchewan within Treaty 2, Treaty 4 and Treaty 6, including the First Nations of Carry the Kettle, Ocean Man, Pheasant Rump, White Bear, Mosquito, Grizzly Bear's Head and Lean Man.