Why Study Anishinaabemowin?
Studying Anishinaabemowin will give students linguistic skills in another language, but also the empowerment of knowing that they are helping revitalize a language which is facing extinction. Today, fewer people speak the language of the Anishinaabe peoples, and many Elders will soon be entering into the Spirit World. Thus, the language of Anishinaabemowin relies upon a newer and younger generation to become versed in the language and to pass their teachings on to future generations.
In addition, studies show those who are fluent in multiple languages have an easier time securing meaningful and higher paid employment. Those who can communicate in more than one language have endless job opportunities, including those in the public and private sector, and within governmental organizations. A degree in Anishinaabemowin can help students become educators, linguists, civil servants, policy makers, and so much more. Studies show that the federal government recruits 5,000 new bilingual employees every year, and bilingual workers earn, on average, between 15 to 21 per cent more than someone who is unilingual.
Why Anishnaabe Studies?
The nomenclature of the Bachelor of Arts in Anishinaabe Studies is intended to distinguish this program from other programs in Ontario that have a similar focus (i.e., Native, Aboriginal, and Indigenous Studies programs). The term Anishinaabe refers to “the Original Peoples of this part of the world,” meaning the peoples of Turtle Island or North America. This is consistent with Algoma University and Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig practices, where Anishinaabe is the term used to refer to “Aboriginal” (First Nations, Metis and Inuit) peoples. This can be seen in many student services that are available as part of the Anishinaabe Initiatives Division. Anishinaabe is not a legal definition, such as “Indian” or “Aboriginal,” and therefore does not impose boundaries around status, community, or country of origin. This is important in terms of local context, in that Sault Ste. Marie is a border community with the United States. Local Anishinaabe communities have been separated by the Canada-U.S. border only very recently, and share a deep- rooted history.
The term Anishinaabe is inclusive with a broad scope, distinctly grounded in local and regional language and knowledge systems. There are many nations that comprise the greater Anishinaabe nation. Each nation is respected and recognized, for example, as Ojibwe Anishinaabe, Cree Anishinaabe, Lakota Anishinaabe, or Métis Anishinaabe. The many nations within the greater Anishinaabe nation include the Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatami peoples, an alliance of significant historical and present day meaning in the region.
The focus of the Anishinaabe Studies program begins with the Original Peoples of the Great Lakes region as well as their close linguistic and cultural relatives, and the program emphasizes the use of the Anishinaabemowin language in its culture-based approach The focus then extends much further with a comparative culture-based approach that considers the contexts of Indigenous peoples across North America.