Andre Cramblit andrekar at NCIDC.ORG
Thu Jun 17 21:24:46 UTC 2004

Akaitcho delegates suggested paying elders and teaching syllabics

They say a lack of money and a cumbersome bureaucracy interferes with getting more people fluent in their native languages.

Elders are often considered great teachers, but many of them aren't paid as such when they help children learn their native language, the assembly heard.

N'Dilo chief Darrell Beaulieu wants the territorial Education Department to recognize them and pay them as teachers.

"But the N.W.T. Education Act says, 'no, your elders have to have a university degree to teach the language.' There is no university that teaches our elders their language," says Beaulieu.

"The elders are probably the professors in this area here."

The discussion concerning the importance of saving native languages lasted for hours at the Akaitcho Assembly.

Some delegates spoke about teaching people syllabics as well as how to speak it.

George Marlow of Lutsel'Ke, says on his travels he found that syllabics form much of the curriculum among the Dene communities in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

"I'm really happy when the little kids, real small kids speak Chipewyan. Nobody talks English. In Lutsel'Ke everybody talks English. It's not right by me,"says Marlow.

Toni Heron, from the Salt River First Nation in Fort Smith, wants the Akaitcho to control government money earmarked for language and culture.

Some representatives say a lack of funding is one of the major challenges in the battle to preserve language.

The Akaitcho government's language co-ordinator works part time and community programs that already exist have limited resources.

Some people at this meeting say pressuring schools to bring in a stronger language curriculum may help.

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