Mi'kmaw Language Conference

L'nui'sultinej: The Mi'kmaw Language Conference was held at St. Francis Xavier University from May 18-20, 2011. This was the eighth gathering of people from across the Mi'kmaw Nation who came together to share ideas related to Mi'kmaw language preservation, enhancement, and revitalization.

The theme of this year’s conference was “What’s new? What’s exciting?” Over the course of the three days there were a multitude of sessions and programs which highlighted the advancements being made in the preservation, enhancement, revitalization, and stabilization of the Mi’kmaw language. Parents, youth, Elders, community members, educators, administrators, and counsellors came together to share ideas related to the Mi’kmaw language.

So what is new and exciting? The advancements are many as educators and communities work to preserve the Mi’kmaw language that is so important to Mi’kmaw culture, history, and identity. Some of the advancements include;

• More communities are strengthening their language program with an increase in core Mi’kmaw language education.

• Research has been published from Eskasoni and Tobique on the successes of Immersion in Mi’kmaw and Maliseet immersion programs demonstrating the gains made in developing fluency, strong identity, and impressive academic achievement in immersion learners.

• 23 Mi’kmaw teachers have graduated from the 30 credit part-time certificate program in Mi’kmaw Language Pedagogy offered through Saint Francis Xavier University and supported by Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey which has deepened their skills in teaching Mi’kmaw and has built capacities in Mi’kmaw communities.

• There’s been a greater use of technology to enhance Mi’kmaw language teaching through the use of Smart Boards, iBooks, iMovies, digital stories, and video conferencing.

• Elders continued to share their wisdom and knowledge in talking circles at the conference and these were appreciated as they have been at each L’nui’sultinej conference. Among these accomplishments, conference participants heard from leaders and educators as they discussed current research and techniques for developing Mi’kmaw language with children and adult learners such as interactive oral communicative games and new materials and resources.

Fred Metallic, a scholar from Listuguj Mi’gmaq community, delivered the keynote address on Wednesday evening and he spoke to his Doctoral research about Mi’gmaq ways of knowing. It is noteworthy that Fred wrote his dissertation in the Mi’gmaq language.

The conference has been made possible through a partnership among Saint Francis Xavier University, the Nova Scotia Department of Education Mi’kmaw Liason Services, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaw, and Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey. The conference began Wednesday May 18 at 7 p.m. at Bloomfield Centre, St.F.X. campus and wound up on Friday at noon with a closing circle.