AWARDS: Honoured for education excellence
King received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for education
excellence Friday night and he says it all started with learning
Ojibwe in the school yard.
my household, I was raised speaking English. My grandmother was
a teacher and believed that I would need English to get along in
the world," says King. I learned Ojibwe from my peers at Buzwah
School (in Wikwemikong) on the playground. Kohkwehns, a local Elder
in Buzwah and a very traditional person -- taught me many traditional
things such as medicines. I learned many Ojibwe expressions from
her when we would go together to pick medicines, berries or other
things which she wanted to teach me.
have taught the importance of understanding the First Nations view
of the world passed down through the language. We cannot know the
world of our ancestors without knowing the language because the
worldview is embedded in our language. For example, we divide the
world into animate and inanimate things and the way we speak of
those things is reflected in the grammar of the language.
learn from the language that we are the most dependent of all Creation.
Our view of our place in the universe is not the same as the Judeo-Christian
view which puts 'Human beings' next to God. Our language contains
the teachings of our culture. When we have to describe our teachings
in English we are limited to the words that are available in English.
In many cases English is inadequate. We need our languages to tell
us who we are. Therefore, it is our belief when a language dies,
so does the culture."
is now a resident Elder at the University of Saskatchewan and has
teach Saulteaux/ Ojibwe language and Saulteaux history and vulture
at the First Nations University.
have spent the last 30 years teaching at the universities in Saskatchewan,"
he says. When I came to Saskatchewan it was to learn in an environment
which did not exist in Ontario at the time. Here was recognition
of the need for First Nations people to control their own education.
is really the culmination of my teaching career. To be able to work
with the people who will be taking over the development of First
Nations education in positions of authority with qualifications
equal to those from mainstream society is incredibly rewarding.
We are finally in a position to use the educational system to accomplish
what we need to do to preserve our languages, cultures and histories."