Throughout shutdowns, event cancellations, isolation and the other ever-evolving obstacles, Kahnawa’kehró:non Atewenniióstha Jacobs has not stopped promoting the importance of Kanienʼkéha.
As part of Cultural Awareness Month, Jacobs is organizing a virtual Rotinonhsión:ni Language Symposium. Although there have been language symposiums in the past, this is the first year the entire event will be on Zoom.
Speakers will be presenting creative ways to improve knowledge of the language, depicting resources and tools that all language learners will find useful.
“The language symposium is for people from all across the Confederacy. Speakers are showcasing their work, their research and their teaching methods surrounding the language,” explained the organizer.
So far, Jacobs has chosen three second-language speakers: Teiotién:taron River McComber, Lotunt Honyust and Ionkwahronkha‘onhátie Jeremy Green.
McComber’s presentation will focus on land-based learning and how to integrate language into cooking Indigenous foods. Honyust will be speaking about how to continue teaching children the language throughout the pandemic, and methodologies and practices that have been successful at the Tsi’ niyukwalihó•t^ Learning Centre.
Some of the topics Green will cover will focus on curriculum development, language documentation, assessment and use of technology.
Each speaker will present for 45 minutes prior to a five-minute question period. There will be a lunch break, where Jacobs has organized live singing entertainment. She has also interviewed elders asking them to share words of encouragement to learners, and these videos will be shown at some point during the symposium as well.
So far, over 50 people have registered, and more are signing up every day. “People might be discouraged because everything’s online, but we need to keep them interested, researching, learning and studying,” she said.
Jacobs handpicked these speakers based on their different approaches and their innovation when it comes to teaching and learning Kanienʼkéha. “We have a lot of people learning, and not enough resources,” said Jacobs, expressing that events like these help stimulate ideas and tools to help guide teachers and learners.
“Often, when you’re teaching, you can fall into a slump, but when you go to these language conferences, you can find different tools and teaching methods,” she said.
Jacobs acknowledged that not everyone is a natural teacher or researcher, so these types of initiatives can go a long way in preserving and revitalizing the language.
The event will be held on Thursday, April 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and you can find the link to register on the Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language & Cultural Center Facebook or Instagram page.