Monday, April 03, 2006

Desire to Learn their Canadian Native Culture

Erin Webkamigad, a young Canadian First Nations in Ontario can't speak fluent Ojibwa, the native language of her older relatives but it's something she wants to learn. "In order to know where you're going, you have to know where you come from," said the 20-year-old University of Guelph student. Webkamigad's father and his siblings were among thousands of young aboriginals forced to attend Canadian residential schools where native languages, traditions, and cultures were discouraged. To this day, she and her four brothers and sisters are feeling the effects. "We're just now learning our language, picking up the pieces," she said. "My dad communicates fluently with his siblings in Ojibwa ... it's the passing it on we're working on." Passing on traditional knowledge is the key to survival for Canadian aboriginal culture, said Wendy Stewart from Anishnabeg Outreach Centre. "There's a need in this community to bridge the gap between elders and youth," she said. "Our elders carry that traditional knowledge, and our youth have become urbanized. Without that communication, there's nobody to carry (the traditions) in the future." The outreach centre is offering Elders and Youth conferences, workshops, and counseling sessions. Webkamigad and other university students are sharing their experiences in panel discussions. Webkamigad says it's another opportunity to meet and learn from the community members.

Previous posts reported similar stories with young aboriginals from tribes in the Northwest and also Arctic regions. So it appears that this need to learn traditional culture among native youths all around North America is growing.

For some articles on Canadian First Nations art, see Canadian Native Art at the Free Spirit Gallery website.

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