Day: January 18, 2016

Angelique EagleWoman becomes new dean of Lakehead law school

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Attorney and professor brings a wealth of experience in Indigenous law, say university officials

CBC News Posted: Jan 13, 2016 6:40 AM ETLast Updated: Jan 13, 2016 11:43 AM ET

Angelique EagleWoman has been appointed the new dean of Lakehead University's Bora Laskin Faculty of Law. EagleWoman will leave her current postion at the University of Idaho College of Law, where she is a law professor and a legal
scholar.

Angelique EagleWoman has been appointed the new dean of Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law. EagleWoman will leave her current postion at the University of Idaho College of Law, where she is a law professor and a legal scholar. (Supplied)

Listen to audio recording…

A northern Ontario university says the new dean of its law school will be the first aboriginal woman to hold that position in Canada.

Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., has appointed Angelique EagleWoman to lead the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law starting in May, a month before the fledgling law school’s first class is set to graduate.

EagleWoman will leave her current postion at the University of Idaho College of Law, where she is a law professor and a legal scholar.

She told CBC News she’s impressed with the Lakehead faculty’s focus on rural and small-town practice, environmental law, and Indigenous law.

“Those three areas are all areas I’ve taught in and I have experience in, and I write a lot of articles about,” she said. “So I just thought ‘what a perfect match.'”

EagleWoman has taught in the areas of Tribal Nation economics and law, and Native American natural resources law. She has also published articles on topics like tribal economics and quality of life for Indigenous peoples, according to a Lakehead University press release.

Wants to build ‘distinguished’ law school

She takes over the position in Thunder Bay from the school’s first dean, Lee Stuesser, who resigned in 2015.

EagleWoman said she doesn’t feel that being relatively new to Canada will be an issue, adding that things like environmental law and Indigenous law share common traits on both sides of the border.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations coming out are very common issues with people that are both in the United States and in Canada who are Indigenous,” she said.

“So there’s a real commonality there, and the land doesn’t know political boundaries.”

EagleWoman said she wants to see the school grow and continue to be a forward-thinking institution.

“I hope to move the law school from the start-up phase to taking its place as a distinguished law school, along with the other Ontario and national law schools,” she said.

A biography posted on the school’s site says one of the highlights of her career was serving as general counsel for her own tribe, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in Dakota.

with files from The Canadian Press.

Reference:

(2016, January 18) Audio – Angelique EagleWoman becomes new dean of Lakehead law school. CBC News. Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/law-school-canada-aboriginal-dean-1.3400903?__vfz=tc%3D7c4KA0bOGi9

Skwomesh language activist to launch ‘trailblazing’ immersion course at B.C. university

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Students to be taught indigenous language 5 days a week at Simon Fraser University

By Duncan McCue, CBC News Posted: Jan 14, 2016 6:38 PM ETLast Updated: Jan 15, 2016 11:36 AM ET

"My heart just soars when I have opportunities to speak to others in my language. Right now, I don't have enough people," says 26-year-old Khelsilem.

“My heart just soars when I have opportunities to speak to others in my language. Right now, I don’t have enough people,” says 26-year-old Khelsilem. (Kwi Awt Stelmexw)

A young man’s determined efforts to revive his ancestral language — which started with grassroots language nights in his father’s home five years ago — reached a new milestone this week with the announcement that he’ll be leading a full-time adult immersion program for the Skwomesh language at Simon Fraser University in September.

“My heart just soars when I have opportunities to speak to others in my language. Right now, I don’t have enough people,” says 26-year-old Khelsilem (his traditional Skwomesh name).

The program would like to have 15 students learning Sk̲wx̱wú7mesh sníchim (the 7 represents a glottal stop or a slight pause) — or in English, the Skwomesh language — seven hours a day, five days a week.

Khelsilem teaching

Khelsilem will be one of two lead instructors of an innovative indigenous language program at Simon Fraser University, which is now accepting applicants. (Kwi Awt Stelmexw)

Khelsilem will be one of two lead instructors of the program, which is now accepting applicants. After completing 1,000 classroom hours, students graduate with a certificate in First Nations language proficiency.

It’s modeled after similar indigenous language programs in Canada and New Zealand. Khelsilem says he was inspired by a trip to the community of Kahnawake in Quebec, where he learned about Mohawk immersion efforts.

“I was able to see how many years of running an adult immersion program has created a community of language speakers … that permeates through many institutions in the community, whether schools, community centres, hospital, daycares or administrative centres,” says Khelsilem.

“When I saw that, it was clear to me what was really needed in my community.”

The Squamish Nation has a population of 4,000 members with a vast traditional territory that ranges from North Vancouver to the city of Squamish, 60 kilometres north of Vancouver.

But a 2014 report on the status of B.C. First Nations languages listed Sk̲wx̱wú7mesh sníchim as “critically endangered,” with only seven fluent speakers remaining.

Immersion-based approach

Until now, the options for Squamish Nation members interested in learning the language have been limited to Skwomesh classes in local elementary and high schools. There are also evening classes for adult learners, which are university-accredited but sporadic. Khelsilem says a few hours a week of language instruction can’t turn a student into a language speaker.

“You might become knowledgeable in aspects of the language, but it won’t make you into a conversational speaker that can talk to fluent speakers, or describe events, people and locations.”

Marianne Ignace

“It’s a trail-blazing project (in British Columbia),” says Professor Marianne Ignace, director of SFU’s First Nations Language Centre. (SFU)

Professor Marianne Ignace, the director of SFU’s First Nations Language Centre, believes the Sk̲wx̱wú7mesh sníchim immersion project has exciting prospects for revitalizing the language.

It’s a trailblazing project (in British Columbia),” says Ignace, a community member of the Skeetchesen First Nation and fluent speaker of secwepemctsin.

“We know in our hearts it’s nearly impossible for somebody who studies their First Nations language at the pace of two to three hours a week — and they need to pump in 1,000 hours to get good at it.”

SFU has certified over 200 students in 15 indigenous languages over the past two decades, says Ignace but only recently began offering opportunities to learn in immersion settings.

The centre ran a four-month immersion “boot-camp” for the Haida language in Haida Gwaii last winter. It’s also piloting a “language house” project with the Osoyoos First Nation and Penticton Indian Band, immersing 15 students in the Okanagan language, known as nsyilxcen, for two-days per week.

“We can see how much faster learners are able to progress, if it’s the full-time immersion based approach,” says Ignace.

“It’s hard to sustain that energy, but we’re losing our elders so fast. We’re in a desperate situation to produce intermediate and advanced speakers as fast as we can.”

Funding indigenous language learning

Khelsilem, a semi-fluent speaker of Sk̲wx̱wú7mesh sníchim, began learning from cassette tapes as a teenager. Once he became more proficient, he launched an online language blog in 2011, designed to reach and teach Squamish Nation members in any location with his self-designed podcasts and YouTube videos.

That evolved into a Language House, where three residents lived and spoke Sk̲wx̱wú7mesh sníchim daily.

Khelsilem 'language house'

Khelsilem was once part of ‘Language House,’ where three residents lived and spoke Sk̲wx̱wú7mesh sníchim daily. (Duncan McCue)

All these efforts were do-it-yourself volunteer affairs, supplemented with contributions from crowdfunding campaigns. But Khelsilem says he recognizes the key to developing a community of language speakers is to make it financially viable for language students.

“A couple ofpost community members have indicated their boss would give them a year leave of absence to take the program, but they won’t be earning income during that time. We want to make language learning financially accessible to people.”

The partnership with Simon Fraser University means students who are First Nation members will be eligible to apply for post-secondary funding to cover tuition costs, as well as a monthly living allowance.

Khelsilem has founded a not-for-profit organization called Kwi Awt Stelmexw, hoping to raise $30,000 for student scholarships, and plans to hold a gala fundraiser this March in North Vancouver.

Reference:

(2016, January 18) Skwomesh language activist to launch ‘trailblazing’ immersion course at B.C. university. CBC News. Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/skwomesh-language-activist-b-c-university-launch-immersion-course-1.3404541?__vfz=tc%3D1m3KDoFKsn9

Inuk woman from the Kivalliq wins national quilting award

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Inuk woman from the Kivalliq wins national quilting award

Veronica Puskas wins an award for excellence at Quilt Canada’s national juried show

CBC News Posted: Jun 26, 2014 5:57 AM CTLast Updated: Jun 26, 2014 12:43 PM CT

Veronica Puskas, who grew up in Nunavut’s Kivalliq region, won the award for Excellence in Work by a first-time exhibitor award at Quilt Canada’s national juried show in St. Catharines, Ont.

Veronica Puskas, who grew up in Nunavut’s Kivalliq region, won the award for Excellence in Work by a first-time exhibitor award at Quilt Canada’s national juried show in St. Catharines, Ont. (Courtesy Veronica Puskas)

(Note: CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external links.)

A former resident of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories has been recognized at a national quilt show.

Veronica Puskas, who grew up in Nunavut’s Kivalliq region, won the award for Excellence in Work by a first-time exhibitor award at Quilt Canada’s national juried show in St. Catharines, Ont.

Veronica Puskas quilt

Veronica Puskas’ quilt, called ‘Pillars of Strength,’ is based on a photo of her mother and grandmother at the Meliadine River near Rankin Inlet in 1950. (Canadian Quilters’ Association)

Her quilt, called Pillars of Strength, is based on a photo of her mother and grandmother at the Meliadine River near Rankin Inlet in 1950.

Puskas says the quilt honours her grandmother, but making it also helped her.

“I hope to encourage people that are going through difficult times that through doing some artwork or doing something to make something beautiful is very cathartic,” she says. “It helps you deal with the emotions and the hurt while doing it.”

Puskas says she started working on the project many years ago and then set it aside. In the end, it was truly a labour of love.

Veronica Puskas quilt (detail)

Detail from Pillars of Strength. (Canadian Quilters’ Association)

“Mom used to tell us you can do better than that and that’s all I kept hearing.”

Puskas’ quilt was selected out of about 80 entries in her category.

Marilyn Michelin, chair of the event, says Puskas’ skill is remarkable.

“To do people in a picture is just unbelievable,” she says. “The talent that people have for that.”

Puskas now lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

She says she’ll keep using Nunavut and the North as inspiration for future projects.

Nuliavuk

Nuliavuk by Veronica Puskas was recently displayed at a local exhibit in Ontario. (Yellowknife Quilters’ Guild)

Reference:

(2016, January 18) Inuk woman from the Kivalliq wins national quilting award. CBC News. Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/inuk-woman-from-the-kivalliq-wins-national-quilting-award-1.2688197?cmp=abfb