Boozhoo (Hello), from all of us here at the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College (KBOCC). Fall is upon us and as the leaves begin to change colors we are making some changes as well. KBOCC has teamed up with our on-site Migiziinsag (Little Eagles) Great Start to Readiness Program to launch our Restorative Teachings Initiative entitled Abinoojiinh Waakaa’igan (A Child’s House).
Abinoojiinh Waakaa’igan is one classroom of 16 children who are 4 years of age. We have already started planning and implementing Ojibwemowin language and culture into the current curriculum. Our core curriculum is High Scope, it is supplemented with the lessons from Turtle Island. Some of the recent activities children have participated in range from; listening and interacting during story time. Before introducing the book Baby Bear Counts One by Ashley Wolff, Christine Awonohopay (cultural advisor) previews the book and incorporates Anishinaabe language throughout by adding her own labels on the pages (picture 1). This allows the children to better understand the meanings by seeing both the English and the Anishinaabe words that go with the pictures. Another learning activity the children recently enjoyed was learning about and participating in a smudging ceremony (picture 2). In the Anishinaabe Culture Smudging with sage is a way to purify and cleanse negative energy out of a room or person. Lastly, a variety of labeling and materials incorporate the language and culture throughout the day we have both English and Anishinaabe translations for the labels (we also include this in everyday speech alternating the languages for basic words). Some of the developmentally appropriate cultural materials we have in our classroom include drums, shakers, art work, and other culturally significant items (picture 3). Since the current curriculum was introduced we have noticed an increase in the students and teachers understanding of the Ojibwemowin language and culture. The students went from not knowing any of the Anishinaabe language to using it in everyday speaking. This includes a basic Boozhoo (Hello), animals such as Makoons (bear cub), counting, and even Migwetch (Thank you). Every time I walk into the room the children are excited to share with me what they are learning. One girl said, “Teacher do you want to hear my new song?” then she continues with the Boozhoo song she just learned.
KBOCC Restorative Teachings Initiative has only just begun to make changes to our community. We are eager see the positive outcomes as we continue to implement the Restorative Initiative as the school year continues to go by. We would also like to say Migwetch (Thank you) to the college fund for giving us this opportunity to introduce this program to our community and we look forward to giving updates of all the positive impacts it has made.
By Jolene DeCota, KBOCC Early Childhood Education and Anishinaabe Studies Student, Restorative Teachings Intern