Non-Indigenous learners taking up Indigenous languages to support revitalization: CBC Radio

Ninaatig Staats Pangowish, an assistant professor at the Centre for Indigenous S
Ninaatig Staats Pangowish, an assistant professor at the Centre for Indigenous Studies, says people of all backgrounds have a role to play in revitalizing Anishinaabemowin and other endangered Indigenous languages (photo courtesy of Duncan McCue/CBC)

A growing number of non-Indigenous students are taking up Indigenous languages through courses such as those offered at the University of Toronto, CBC Radio reports.

Ninaatig Staats Pangowish, an assistant professor at the Centre for Indigenous Studies , says he welcomes non-Indigenous learners into his classes because people of all backgrounds have a role to play in revitalizing Anishinaabemowin and other endangered Indigenous languages.

"If I want my language to be a national [or] regional language in Canada, it can’t just be Anishinaabeg who speak it," Staats Pangowish tells reporter Duncan McCue on The Current.

Sara McDowell, a master’s student at University of Toronto, has interviewed language teachers and elders for her thesis on how non-Indigenous people can best support the revitalization of First Nations languages.

"When we learn Indigenous languages, it’s a way of saying, ’We recognize that you’re here, we respect you, we think your languages are important and so are you. And we want to work together to change things,’" says McDowell, a self-described Canadian settler who has studied Anishinaabemowin for about 12 years.

Listen to the documentary on CBC Radio’s The Current

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