By Daniel McIntosh
Starting next semester, students will be able to learn and study Anishinaabemowin at Ryerson University.
CMN 411, Special Topics in ProCom: Indigenous Language Immersion I (Anishinaabemowin), will be offered in January 2019 through the Professional Communication school.
“It’s intended to be a highly applied course,” said Cherie Bova, manager of administration at Ryerson’s School of Professional Communication. “It will be situated in a communal, Indigenous environment, so whatever the reflected practice within the community is, it’s hoped that it’s going to be echoed in the course design.”
Students will converse, perform and participate in interactive storytelling throughout the course.
Associate professor Joanne DiNova, a member of the Couchiching First Nation, is teaching the course.
DiNova was unavailable for comment in time for publication.
Courses like these provide new perspectives to non-Indigenous students, said Angela Mashford-Pringle, an Algonquin educator at the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health at the University of Toronto (U of T).
“You see a different way of seeing the world [when learning a new language],” said Mashford-Pringle. She said she hopes non-Indigenous students learn to think about the land they’re on and view it as more than just space to own.
“Elders tell us that culture is embedded in our languages, so introducing the language allows the opportunity to revitalize the culture.”
The value of Indigenous language revitalization was highlighted in Ryerson’s Truth and Reconciliation Report community consultation published in January 2018.
Keren Rice, chair of U of T’s department of linguistics, said it’s important “for students and the other members of the university to understand the critical value of Indigenous languages.”
Marie Crosta, the director of outreach for the Faculty of Communication and Design, said courses centered around Indigenous culture at Ryerson quickly become popular through word of mouth. She saw this firsthand when the Radio and Television Arts program rolled out their Indigenous Media course.
“Their first offering was kind of small, but the next offering had about 50 students,” said Crosta, adding that CMN 411 has the potential to become a staple course.