The Tlicho Government has formed an agreement with College Nordique to cover the cost of Tlicho language courses for members of the Indigenous community.
According to a news release from the college on April 3, the Tlicho Government also agreed to train another instructor in their language for the college.
The college stated its commitment to having the Tlicho people be part of the teaching process with a quote: “Nothing about them without them,” it stated in its news release.
Georgina Franki, the Tlicho instructor at the college, expressed her passion for teaching the Indigenous community in the release.
“In our classes, we hear the beautiful, unique accents from the communities, like Behchoko, Gameti, Wekweeti and Whati, and Ndilo and Dettah,” she stated. “When I hear a different way of saying something, I don’t say that it’s wrong, I get excited!
“That’s the richness and the celebration that we want to bring to the people.”
In an interview with Yellowknifer, Franki said that there has been increased interest in learning the Tlicho language on an international level since the pandemic began.
“This is one of the reasons why we need the second (teacher),” she said.
Franki’s grandmother was an important part of her upbringing and helped her understand the Tlicho language, she added.
“This is the beauty about having an oral history,” she said. “Stories told to you by your grandparents is very important.”
One of the things that Franki has been teaching college students over the past four years is that the language derives from the Elders seeing the land.
“When you’re looking at our natural environment in the Northwest Territories, that’s where our language begins,” she said. “(That) is what they saw with their eyes and there’s a story behind the language itself as well.”
She encourages Indigenous youth to explore their heritage by learning the language.
“It’s very important to know your culture, your way of life and your language so you can function in both worlds,” she said. “This is one of the teachings that we receive from our Elders.”
Tlicho Grand Chief Jackson Lafferty stated that learning the Tlicho language is the essence of learning about the Tlicho people.
“For Indigenous peoples, revitalizing our languages is one of the most critical elements of self-determination and healing,” he said. “Our language is at the heart of our culture and identity, and the process of learning language is fundamental to building the well-being and the community.”
Patrick Arsenault, executive director of the college, stated that he is pleased with the agreement.
“For College Nordique, this is a partnership that is a testament to our shared commitment to the revitalization of Indigenous languages and reconciliation,” he said.
Tyanna Steinwand, research operations manager for the Tlicho government, said, “I’m hoping that if people see the Tlicho Government and College Nordique working together, more people will be encouraged to sign up.”
College Nordique is a non-profit organization that offers education programs, including post-secondary and is known for its language courses in Tlicho, French, English and Spanish.