Language teacher Ima Johnson passes

Peacefully at home, Tekahkhwa Ima Jean Johnson began her journey back to the Creator surrounded by family and friends last Saturday. Her life spanned from Ionerahtokha/April 4, 1940 – Ionerahtokha/April 20, 2019

She will be greeted by her parents David and Marjorie Skye, father and mother in law Frank and Edith Johnson, brother Leroy Smoke, sister Christine Skye, daughter Elizabeth Skye, granddaughter Lindsay Skye and grandson Carney Johnson who have all passed on ahead of her.

Loving wife for 55 years to Manuel Johnson and beloved mother of Danny, Louis (Deneen), Tom (Clara), Wayne (Danielle), Wendy (Gord), Gary (Brenda), Sandy, Tammy, Wanda, Bill (Tara), Connie (Cleveland) & devoted daughter Anita “Deats” Hill. Cherished grandmother of 40 grandchildren and 31 great grandchildren. Loving sister of Melvin (Arliss) and Kelvin (Sharon). Sister in law to Leslie Hagyard, Jim (Romaine) deceased, Welby (Linda), Ambrose (Joan), and Ron (Hazel). Medicine friend to both Hazel Johnson and Kylee Johnson. Johnson was also the head Faithkeeper at Lower Cayuga Longhouse.

Johnson was of the Mohawk Nation and Turtle Clan and for over 25 years she served as a Mohawk Language teacher. She developed a curriculum for the Mohawk immersion program at Kawenni:io/Gaweni:yo Private School and began the tasks of teaching the children the language. In 1998 she received her Ontario Teachers’ Certificate through Brock University and her understanding and patience also prompted her to teach Adult Mohawk Language classes at the Six Nations Polytechnic. Johnson’s passion to teach the Mohawk language to whoever wanted to learn led many to reclaim their language and her devotion to the immersion program reverberates today as she was a Translator at the Kawenni:io/Gaweni:yo Language Preservation Project.

She was named a Six Nations Community Treasure in 2004 and a Six Nations Indigenous Knowledge Guardian in 2008 and in the following year she was awarded the title of Professor of Indigenous Language. Rich in the knowledge of Haudenosaunee traditions and culture, she shared her knowledge with women in the Six Nations and Hamilton communities through various prenatal clinics and teaching women’s wellness and parenting. Through her gift as a storyteller, many of her teachings were also shared with others as they were meant to.

Johnson was also a member of the Board of Directors for Six Nations Polytechnic, the Six Nations Birthing Centre and a member of the Grandparents of the Birthing Centre.

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