[EDLING:1674] Canada: Language retention ignites young entrepreneurs vision

Francis M. Hult fmhult at DOLPHIN.UPENN.EDU
Fri Jun 23 02:18:33 UTC 2006



Language retention ignites young entrepreneurs vision

A January 2004 paper by Indian Affairs and Heritage Canada explored the 
survival and maintenance of Aboriginal languages and concluded only three of 
about 50 languages were not in danger of being lost forever. 

According to the paper, “From Generation to Generation: Survival and 
Maintenance of Canada’s Aboriginal Languages within Families, Communities and 
Cities, “Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut are the largest and most wide spread 
languages. And young entrepreneur Clayton R. Ogden, 26, originally from 
Mishkeegogamang wants to make sure that the numerous Ojibway and Oji-Cree 
dialects in northern Ontario stay strong. 

Ogden is aiming to have each school in Treaty 3 and Nishnawbe Aski Nation 
outfitted with Anishinabe language materials for children; which will 
be “tailored made” to each community’s dialect. 

“I love business,” the young entrepreneur explained of his pursuit. “Business 
is my life. But it’s not just about business; it’s about doing something for 
the people. I’ve always wanted to make a significant contribution to the 
Anishinabe people and I feel this is how.” 

Ogden spent three years at Confederation College in Thunder Bay studying 
business. After completing his education, he settled back in Grassy Narrows 
where he spent the bulk of his youth, and it was there during a teaching stint 
that Ogden first got the idea to develop Aboriginal language materials for 

“While I was working there, I noticed there were no materials and everyone 
kept talking about how bad they needed materials. So, I thought to myself, I’m 
going to produce the materials.” 

Inspired, Ogden began producing materials on his laptop. 

Six months later, Ogden had developed a wide variety of materials such as a 
selection of children’s spelling books, flashcards and items for walls of 

Ogden hit his first hurdle when he tried selling his newly developed material 
to schools within Treaty 3. 

“I tried selling the materials and found out that each school and community 
has their own dialect. 

“This is where the first failure hurdle came in due to a lack of capital. This 
was extremely hard on the business and on me. “I then went back and redid my 
marketing plan and also found my new goal of offering each school the option 
of ordering materials, which are developed specifically for their children and 
developed with their very own dialects.” 

Operating under the name Oji-Cree Crow Incorporated, Ogden now will be sending 
out promotional packages to schools along with a word list for language 
teachers to type in their own dialects which will allow his business to custom 
develop every order. 

“This is to ensure 100 per cent language accuracy for all who order,” Ogden 
said. “It’s a new concept, a way of giving the schools exactly what they want, 
so I am excited to see how schools respond.” 

Ogden often rises at dawn to work freelance jobs such as creating 
advertisements and brochures. 

“I was up at 4:30 this morning and walked to work, and the money I make from 
here will go towards a promotional package. It’s not always the healthiest 
thing to do; yet I feel it’s a small sacrifice for a greater good.” 

Ogden hopes to one day see all First Nation schools in northwestern Ontario, 
Manitoba and northern Minnesota using his materials. 

Ogden's plans have grown into more than just a business venture. 

Ogden can be reached by e-mail at c_ogden24 at hotmail.com 

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