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Sitting taller, standing straighter: New language degree offered at SNP


OHSWEKEN – Fran Henry sat a little bit taller on the benches at her Six Nations longhouse celebration this year when for the first time, she understood what was being said on her own.

“As an Ogwehoweh, I need to speak my language,” said Henry, 55.

Henry, a second-year Ogwehoweh language diploma student at Six Nations Polytechnic (SNP) was a guest speaker at a media event on Monday where the province of Ontario announced that SNP will offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in two Ogwehoweh languages — Mohawk and Cayuga — making it the very first standalone degree program to be offered by a First Nations post secondary organization.

The announcement fulfills a recommendation from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that post-secondary institutions create degree programs in Indigenous languages and was presented by Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and University.

“Our government has made a clear commitment to learn from the past, build on our success stories, and increase our efforts to help Indigenous learners get the education and training they need,” said Moridi. “Six Nations Polytechnic is committed to creating an Indigenous environment that is grounded in culture and community, language, research and academic quality.”

Henry said that she has carried a lot of shame and guilt throughout her years because she couldn’t speak her language. She shared a story that her grandmother shared with her which might explain why this degree program means so much to many Ogwehoweh.

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