Introductory Cree course available at Lakeland

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April 23, 2019
Lakeland College is offering lessons on Cree language and culture this spring.
Participants of this introductory course will learn structure, phonics and conversational Cree. Taught by Clint Chocan, Lakeland’s manager of Indigenous support services, the lessons will also provide insights into Cree culture.

“For First Nations people, spirituality is the connection of everything that exists – culture, ceremony, nature, kinship, language, all creation,” he says. “In the Cree language, there is no literal translation for most words, it’s all about meaning. If you don’t understand the root of the word or the phrase that you are trying to express, then you’re not able to translate it.”

A variety of learning techniques and strategies will be used to aid participants in their studies, including chants and songs, visual and audio aids, and total physical response exercises. “The students will have a good understanding of what to listen for and how to develop not only words but phrases as well. By the time they are done, they should be able to form some sentences for conversation,” says Chocan.

“For someone who wants to understand their culture or a culture, they would go to the language because the language can connect them and teach them why things are the way they are. Some of the ceremonies and beliefs that we have are explained through just one word. Once you learn how those words connect with the beliefs, you’ll get a clear picture of the Indigenous cultures and the world view and perspective of First Nations.”

Since 1994, Chocan has worked to revitalize the Cree language. He developed resources for the Cree immersion language program and taught in Onion Lake, Sask., schools. Chocan joined Lakeland in 2016 and has led a number of Indigenous support service initiatives, including a reconciliation speaker series, raising of the Treaty 6 and Métis flags on both campuses, Cree language workshops and more.

Introduction to Cree language and culture is offered at the Lloydminster campus two evenings each week from May 6 to June 19, 2019. Participants must be 18 years of age or older. Registration is available online.