Six Nations Language Commission October Update

By Karen Sandy

SIX NATIONS – This year marks the 10th year the Six Nations Language Commission has been operating.

There are programs available for three languages right now and it has been a busy year as they strive to create a critical mass of new speakers. We are fortunate at Six Nations to have many language partners such as Six Nations Polytechnic who designed and created the Cayuga Language App, along with many citizens here who are committed to learning.

Funding continues to be a challenge and the past few years we have been able to count on the local, financial support of the Six Nations Elected Council, Six Nations Community Development Trust, the Haudenosaunee Development Institute, and Grand River Employment and Training. External financial support comes from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Heritage Canada, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. One of the language programs were also recipients of funds direct from the National Indian Brotherhood. There are also individual private donors who believe in revitalizing our languages through monthly or one time donations. These funds assist in supporting initiatives where funding is otherwise restricted or limited.

In 2013 and 2016 we held language conferences which looked at best practices, archiving, lexicalization and documenting. We are currently running a special project that will create resources and books for learners in three learning levels according to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (Novice, Intermediate, Advanced). Our programs are continuously looking for ways to improve their success rates and produce new speakers.

There will be a provincial language symposium in the spring of 2017. This symposium is Ontario’s commitment to ‘Reconciling with Indigenous Peoples’ which stems from the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions “Calls to Action” as documented in Ontario’s The Journey Together report.

The Grand Erie District School Board also has continued to support the Cayuga and Mohawk languages by offering them in secondary schools. Onkwawenna Kentyohkwa is currently running a first and second year adult immersion program. Dwadewayehsta Gayogohono has a first year program and the Onondaga adult first year program will be starting in January.

The Six Nations Language Commission Board meets monthly. The current volunteer board members are as follows: Rebecca Jamieson, Chair (Six Nations Polytechnic); Amos Key Jr, Vice-Chair (Woodland Cultural Centre); Melba Thomas, (Six Nations Elected Council); Tom Deer (Federal Schools); Joanne Longboat (Kawenni:io Gaweni:yo Private School), Kathy Smith, Community Rep. We have vacancies for another community member as well as a representative from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council.

If interested please contact the SNLC at 905-765-5595.

Please “like” us on Facebook and watch for our new website in the next few weeks which is currently under construction.


Karen Sandy is the co-ordinator for the Six Nations Language Commission in Ohsweken, Ont.

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