Letter the the Editor: in response: Wawatay News, Dec. 20, 2012 commentary Urban Indian 2, Richard Wagamese
Given the vast circumstances and/or reasons why someone does not speak any Anishinabe language — is up to the Individual!
As for myself, I was in the Indian Residential School (IRS)systems from 1961-69, as we all know we were not allowed to speak any Anishinabe language. The will of survival away from family and community, I made my own exceptions — when it was recess, outdoor recreational activities or in the dormitory — was that a precious window of opportunity for me to JUST speak, joke, laugh or cry in Ojibwa. Those were the breaks that I needed to keep me living in my own language. Today, it is inside of me always, my life and how I think is always in Ojibwa, first!
I agree that many students lost personal identity. Cultural ideas and traditional teachings were put away for the duration of the IRS era, as well as the Ojibwa, Oji-Cree or Cree languages of northwestern Ontario. Armed with these very personal emotions I chose to become a professional teacher with an Anishinabe language specialist background. I have many opportunities to teach all interest groups from four years old to seniors for the past 15 years. For me, I attribute that intrinsic will to be holistic, physical, mental, spiritual, emotional and language. I am so very proud to speak Ojibwa.
It is up to the individuals themselves to find that circumstance and/or reason to begin to learn to speak any Anishinabe language.
Gii chi miigwech!
Whitesand First Nation
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