Canada: Language retention ignites young entrepreneurs vision (fwd)

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Jun 23 18:21:53 UTC 2006

Forwarded from edling at

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 classrooms. 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

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