OHSWEKEN — Just ahead of National Aboriginal Languages Day, Onkwawenna Kentyohkwa will be rocking their Mohawk language skills online via livestream from the classroom on Tuesday, March 29 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at www.onkwawenna.info/tewawennakaratat.
The event is called Tewawennakará:tat! / Raise Our Voices! and will be sure to entertain and inspire people to learn kanyen’kéha.
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“We want to show the world that we are saving and strengthening our mother tongue; that we are giving it love and respect; that we are using it to communicate with one another and to inform and entertain ourselves and that we are fulfilling our responsibility to pass our language on to the children following us” said Konwentenras Joslyn Jamieson, a first-year student at Onkwawenna Kentyohkwa.
“There are individual and group projects ranging from stories to movies showcased by students. Some will act as hosts and introduce material or speakers during the talkathon.” she said of some of the content the current first and third year classes will be sharing.
“The day will be divided into half-hour segments and our students and some of our graduates will be hosting a half-hour each,” explained Owennatekha Brian Maracle, a teacher at Onkwawenna Kentyohkwa. “The hosts will be doing their own thing, whatever that is – telling stories, singing songs, telling jokes – and they will be introducing and explaining videos and Powerpoint presentations that will be all in the language. Some of the videos come from our Youtube Channel and some are in the process of being made right now.”
Onkwawenna Kentyohkwa’s Youtube channel features a number of funny skits and tutorials that have been become a popular resource for both Kanyen’kéha teachers and learners.
Over the years, students at Onkwawenna Kentyohkwa have been engaged in many entertaining ways to utilize their language abilities. In a digital world, the program is continually adapting to new ways of keeping language learning accessible outside of the classroom. Tewawennakará:tat will be using multimedia technology to give viewers a variety of ways to retain the language.
“Nowadays we strongly encourage students to use digital flashcard programs to learn vocabulary outside the classroom. From time to time we also use smartboards in-class for the same purpose,” said Owennatekha of using technology as a teaching tool for students.
“We spend 99 per cent of our time however, in face-to-face conversation trying to enable students to understand what they hear and enable them to say what’s on their mind. Our online program is just the opposite. It is entirely based on technology. So it’s a matter of using technology where it works best and not using it where something else works better,” said Owennatekha.
“Owennatekha encouraged us to use our own creativity to decide what we wanted to present and how,” said Konwentenras. “Not everyone likes to be on camera, so some of us are prerecording their own material as a Powerpoint story or a short film all in Kanyen’kéha but with English subtitles or translations.”
Konwentenras will be sharing a couple of short stories in the style of children’s books so she can share them with her niece and nephews.
“Some of the presentations are geared to children and use simple grammar and vocabulary,” Owennatekha explained. “Some, like a recreation of a scene from the movie Napolean Dynamite, are geared to an adult sense of humour. One of them shows and explains historical artifacts – stone grinding tools for example. Another tells the story of baseball legend Roberto Clemente and another is a how-to manual of making maple syrup. So it’s a little bit of everything – all in Kanyen’kéha.”
Onkwawenna Kentyohkwa will be hosting the event, but it will feature content from any Mohawk language speakers who want to participate.