Portage College: Introductory Cree Language Course Spring Delivery
July 9, 2020
Starting in the fall of 2019 an Introductory Cree Language course was created jointly by Connie Twin and Tanya Fontaine. Connie and Tanya met in Cree class at the University of Alberta in the late 80’s, each coming from opposite perspectives, a fluent Cree speaker and a second language learner with no prior knowledge of the language. Together, they were able to help each other navigate the University level Cree course and came to share a dream of helping others learn Cree as they had done, with the support from each other’s unique perspectives. Connie has B.A Native Studies/Cree, B.Ed Secondary Education and an M.A Indigenous Languages. Connie has been teaching Cree from K5 to Post secondary level since 1991. Tanya has a B.A and M.A. and also has experience in Cree language instruction.
Both Tanya and Connie have a passion for instruction and the love for the Language. Through the course creation, and their current co-instruction of two course sections, their bond has strengthened and they are truly enjoying the life-long language learning and sharing journey. The two course sections were run through the Frog Lake and Elk Point CALPs. For these sections there was no tuition charged and no textbooks needed to be purchased. The Moodle course is packed full of language history, verb and noun lessons, and verbal recorded clips that can be played over and over for students to practice independently. Using Collaborate Ultra, a synchronous class took place twice a week and the entirety of the class was dedicated to language speaking. Students were given opportunities to practice live with excellent, timely feedback about their vocabulary use and accent. Due to other time commitments some students were not able to attend the live collaborate sessions, but were then still able to watch these recorded sessions at their leisure.
General stats for the participants: Of all of the participants, 46 students are 100% new and have never taken a Continuing Education course or anything with Portage. 70% of them are self-identified as indigenous. As these are community-based programs, some former community members had applied from out of province. In total we had three folks from British Columbia, two from Saskatchewan, and one from Manitoba. 30% of them have had some post-secondary training.
Feedback about the course:
This is my first time taking a nehiyawewin (Cree language) course and I have really enjoyed my experience. A key factor in this has been the co-instruction of Connie and Tanya, who come together as an Indigenous language keeper and a non-Indigenous language learner/ally in the spirit of friendship and partnership to preserve and pass on the beautiful nehiyawewin language. Their patience, humor, and respect for one another modelled what reconciliation looks like and created a safe space for students to begin learning nehiyaw (Cree) language and culture. I hope this rich learning opportunity continues to be offered to others seeking to learn and that a more advanced course will be offered as well.
This has been the most enjoyable class I have been in! The curriculum was really well put together and there was lots of practice which was really helpful. By the end of our eight weeks we learned an amazing amount. Tanya and Connie are a really good team – positive – patient and knowledgeable. My only regret is that it is over 🙁 I am really hoping there will be a part two!! Thanks for this amazing class!!
Good evening Ladies! I currently am enrolled in the Conversational Cree 101 course and was informed that you were looking for feedback. This course was absolutely amazing- the content was not too heavy and provided a great basis for understanding simplistic Cree language (spoke and written). Furthermore, Tanya and Connie were awesome to work and speak with as they were considerate in our learning and helped when they could! As an educator and mother of two, the language and information I am going to take back to my students are both profound and applicable! I would highly recommend this course to anyone who is serious about learning the Cree Language!
Realize that we as human beings have been put on this earth for only a short time and that we must use this time to gain wisdom, knowledge, respect and the understanding for all human beings since we are all relatives
ka-ki-kiskêyihtêtan ôma, namoya kinwes maka aciyowês pohko ôma ôta kahayayak wasêtam askihkm êkwa ka-kawêy miskêtan kiskêyihtamowin iyinîsiwin kistêyitowin mina nânisitotatowin kakiya ayisiniwak, êkosi ôma kakiya ka-wahkotowak
Learning the things I need to in order to hold a short conversation. Lots of info but well worth the results. I love learning from the comfort of my home. The instructors are the best.
The class had been great! The technical aspect has been a bit glitchy, but the course is very well done. In my six year working on a Cree Nation, I have learned the most Cree from this course.
Listening and practicing was really helpful. I would really like to receive credit for this course too.
I’m sorry this is late, but I just wanted to say that this course has opened the door for me to more deeply understand my family who are Cree. Being able to speak their mother tongue allows me to understand their perspective. It is a door into the Cree culture. The teachers were very kind and patient. Their positive attitudes and encouragement have motivated me throughout the course. Thank you.
I’m so glad that we are offering the Introductory Cree Course through Portage College. It is rejuvenating our language in the community and this is so important in maintaining our culture. It has been well received and staff from many departments are participating. Thank-you for working with us to meet this need. Hiy! Hiy!
To inquire about this course please contact Continuing Education by email or phone 1-888-745-0719.
Jaime Davies, Corporate Communications Manager
780-623-5581 or email