I just finished my last class of my first semester of second year. Boy does time fly! I can’t believe it’s this time already and all I have is one last essay to write before Thursday… which I probably should be working on but I’m writing to you instead about the class that just (unfortunately) finished! “Case Studies in Canada’s Aboriginal Languages” (LIN/SOSC/CDNS 3616), taught by the amazing Professor Maya Chacaby.
I first heard about this course through Krista when she mentioned it to me last year. When I was looking for a three credit Social Science course to take this year, I remembered how Krista had mentioned how much she loved the course. And boy, she was right.
The course is essentially, an Ojibwe language course. However, through the course, you also learn a lot about the culture and worldview of the Anishinaabe people because both are super interconnected. For example, in the culture, everything is alive. In the language there are two ways to speak about how everything is alive: bimaatis, he/she is alive and bimaatan, it is alive. How do you distiguish between the two? When Maya asked the class this, we assumed that people and animals would fall under bimaatis and everything else would be the other category. However then she told us that objects like spoons and kettles are bimaatis. How is that possible? Why would I speak about my spoon in the same way I would speak about my sister? Simply put, there are stories that explain all this. Stories that are told and are rooted in years of history and tradition.
I would leave that class every week with a new outlook on life because it really does open up your eyes to a new culture. In our first class, Maya gave us a crash course on history. I learned more in those three hours about Aboriginal history and culture than I had in 12 years in the Ontario public school system. It was from that moment that I knew I loved this course. Because I knew that I would genuinely learn something.
This is a course where you really can’t miss a week or you’ll be behind. But it works, because it’s also a course that you genuinely want to go to every single week, no matter what’s happening outside of it. From traditional songs we sung, to videos we watched, this class was a pleasure each week.
Each student walks away from that course a little bit different; we are aware, we are passionate and we are allies to a community. Our final project was to make “Community resource.” Something that will actually be used in First Nations schools to help teach, educate, and help revitalize this language that is at risk. Our class decided to all do our projects revolving around the kitchen, and to capitalize on the popularity and accessiblility of the internet and created Youtube videos. You can see mine below, a video on making Pizza but completely in Ojibwe, and visit the channel it’s linked too to see the other groups’ as well!
This is, by far, my favourite course I have taken at Glendon and is a course that will always have a lasting effect on me.
Megwiich! (Thank you!)