Queen's University

New Mohawk, Inuktitut courses introduced

 
2012-07-19
[Feathered Rainbow by Kenojuak Ashevak]Feathered Rainbow by renowned Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak, who received an honorary degree from Queen's in 1991. Two new courses offered by the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures will give students an understanding of the rich Inuit and Mohawk cultures as well as rudimentary knowledge of the languages.

Queen’s students will have the opportunity to study the languages and cultures of the Mohawk and Inuit peoples this fall through two new courses offered by the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (LLCU).

“We feel very strongly that we want to represent as many regions and cultures as possible, and we want to be inclusive in our offerings,” says Jill Scott, acting associate head, LLCU. “We first and foremost wanted to offer a course in Mohawk, because of the department’s close relations to the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre (FDASC) and because Queen’s sits on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples. Mohawk is an endangered language and the community in Tyendinaga has been working extremely hard to solidify and strengthen the language and create a foundation of speakers.”

Through the process of developing the Mohawk course, the opportunity arose to offer Inuktitut as well. Both courses will give students rudimentary knowledge of the languages and, through an exploration of traditions, philosophies and histories, an understanding of the rich Mohawk and Inuit cultures.

The two courses emerged through a collaborative process between LLCU, FDASC, the local Mohawk community, the graduate program in Cultural Studies, and the Faculty of Education. LLCU hopes these courses will assist in the development of a minor concentration in Indigenous Studies.

“Queen’s is a place that graduates the future leaders and policymakers of this country and the world, and I think we do a disservice to people who are going to be in leadership positions if they leave this university without knowing anything about the First Nations and Inuit people,” says Janice Hill, Director, FDASC. “These courses help fill that void and create greater awareness and visibility of Aboriginal people on campus.”

The Mohawk course will be taught by Bonnie Jane Maracle, lecturer in the Faculty of Education and LLCU, and member of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Nation. Noel McDermott, a teaching fellow and doctoral candidate in Cultural Studies, will teach the Inuktitut course. Students across all disciplines are encouraged to enroll.

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