Algoma University offering special spring courses in Lac Seul
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
For the first time, Algoma University is offering special spring session courses during May in Lac Seul First Nation. This is just the second year that the university has offered special spring session courses, and it’s the first time that they’ve been offered off-campus.
This year’s spring session is called Ziigwang Inakamigiziwin, and the three courses being offered are learning Anishinaabemowin, the Ojibwe language; treaties and the treaty-making process; and the plants of the region and their uses. Students have the option of taking one, two or all three courses, and they can earn up to nine university credits.
Students have to be eligible to study in a university degree program to take these courses. Algoma faculty members said these courses are a good gateway in to a degree program.
“We receive a lot of interest from language teachers for their professional development, but it’s also a pathway into university for some. Students can apply these credits towards a degree program on-campus,” mentioned Algoma Anishinaabe outreach officer Aryn Lesage.
“These three courses have no prerequisites, so a person starting off their academic career can begin here. They could have a native Ojibwe language degree out of this, or they can go in to the other regular arts degree programs,” explained Algoma University assistant professor Patricia Ningewance.
Ningewance continued to explain that these off-campus courses have a one-of-a-kind faculty.
“This is the first time Algoma University has ever offered courses off-campus, “said Ningewance. “The three of us that are going to be teaching these courses, we are all fluent speakers of Ojibwe. I think that this is the first time where students are learning from faculty that are all fluent in Ojibwe. I’ve been an instructor at Algoma and Lakehead for many years, and I’ve never seen this before. It’s very unique.”
As the courses get closer, Ningewance said she plans on immersing the students in to the Ojibwe language right away to help them learn and pick up the language.
“…Because we (the faculty) all speak the language, I think it’ll be a very positive experience. My approach is to get students to try and speak to each other in the language as fast as possible. It helps them to understand the spoken word when they hear it.”
For those that don’t plan on applying the credits to a degree program, Aryn Lesage said these courses are a good opportunity to learn a new language, and the program provides a variety of different learning environments.
“These courses tend to be very land based and culture based, so it’s an opportunity for us to mix things up a bit educationally. It’s a great opportunity to hear and learn the Ojibwe language as well,” concluded Lesage.
The deadline to apply for the courses is April 16. To register, the registrar’s office can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.