Six Nations Polytechnic celebrates inaugural convocation of language degree

OHSWEKEN – June 7th marked a milestone in the history of Six Nations Polytechnic (SNP), with the first ever convocation of students from the Bachelor of Arts in Ogwehoweh Languages program.

This is also the first time an Indigenous institution has accredited a standalone degree. Those in attendance included the graduating students, their friends and family, SNP Staff, and Six Nations community members. The group heard inspirational speeches from Indigenous Knowledge Guardian Ima Johnson and other guests, who spoke to the students directly in Mohawk and Cayuga; the languages in which the degrees are offered.

“According to UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, each of the six languages spoken in our community is on the list of languages that are critically endangered,” said Rebecca Jamieson, President and CEO of Six Nations Polytechnic. “Therefore, it’s of the utmost importance that we at Six Nations Polytechnic, and in the Six Nations community, do everything in our power to prevent our languages from being lost. The graduates today have shown tremendous dedication to revitalize our language, and because of their commitment our community will have more language teachers, more children speaking the language, and I could not be more proud of them.”

When SNP received ministerial consent to grant the degree from the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (formerly Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities) in December 2015, students who had previously completed their Ogwehoweh Language Diploma were among the first to be offered the opportunity to complete one more year of study to obtain the Bachelor of Arts Degree in the language. Classes for the degree began in January 2016 for those students who had already obtained their diploma with SNP, and those are the students who graduated today.

“I’m very proud of all the students who are graduating today. As an instructor and coordinator for the language program, I have seen firsthand how much the students have grown and how far they’ve come over the last few years. It is now their turn to carry on with the work that we’ve been doing at Six Nations Polytechnic to continue speaking the language and using it in their everyday lives,” said Tom Deer.

Graduates of the Bachelor of Arts in Ogwehoweh Languages – Cayuga Stream: Bruce Longboat, Christine Jacobs, Coleen Powless, Corene Cheeseman, Karen General, Lainie Longboat, Lindsey Brooke Johnson.

Graduates of the Bachelor of Arts in Ogwehoweh Languages – Mohawk Stream: Cynthia McQueen, Deneen Hill, Holly Styres, Sean Thompson.

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