Devan C. Tasa, News Editor Ω
The university is offering its first Aboriginal language course taught on campus.
The first class in Secwepemctsín, the language of the local Secwepemc nation, will take place Jan. 21 at 5 p.m. in AE 100. It’s being taught by Janice Billy, a fluent speaker teaching the language at the Little Fawn Nursery and at the Skl’ep School of Excellence.
“It’s timely,” said Jack Miller of TRU’s school of education. “First Nations language and culture is important to the university, so that’s why it’s being offered.”
The course has been in the making since 2006, when the provincial government funded the developmental standards term certificate program, which aims to provide certification for teachers of Aboriginal languages to teach within the education system.
“It’s been a long time in coming,” Miller said. “We were hoping we would have been able to offer it well before now, but it’s sometimes difficult to get things moving.”
Nolan Guichon, TRUSU’s Aboriginal representative, was pleased to hear about the new course.
“We think it’s a great course and are glad TRU finally has a course like this,” he wrote via email.
Carl Archie, student member of the board of governors, had similar sentiments.
“The Secwepemctsín course is massive for the university, which is a long time overdue,” he said. “It’s really great that the university is offering this course and they should continue to move in this direction.”
Archie said since the board of governors created its last strategic plan in 2007, it has been aiming to promote greater inclusion of Aboriginal people in the university
“TRU has been a leader in Aboriginal education in the province and across the country, with 1,200 Aboriginal students,” he said. “This fills a big gap. The addition of the course will go a long way to enhance TRU’s reputation as a school of choice for Aboriginal students. ”
TRUSU has also been asking the university to include more Aboriginal content, Guichon wrote.
The course does provide university credit, but there’s a catch.
“It’s a three credit course, but right at the present time, it is not eligible to meet the language credit for a B.A.,” Miller said. “I’m working on that as we speak.”
There is currently debate within the arts faculty whether or not the course should provide language credits.
“In my mind, there’s no reason why they can’t be considered because all of the courses in this program have been approved by the education programs committee, the TRU senate and the board of governors,” Miller said.
Both Archie and Guichon said they wanted to university to have the course provide a language credit.
“As the Aboriginal student representative, I would like to see eventually an Aboriginal language credit course available for all students,” Guichon wrote.
“Right now, to say that it can’t be counted as a [language] credit, it’s similar to saying that our language isn’t a real language and I find that disappointing,” Archie said.
The Secwepemctsín course is one of the ways the university has been improving services Aboriginal people, Archie said. Other examples include the tripling of the space in the Aboriginal gathering place two years ago.