Translating the Land: Indigenous Languages in the Aboriginal Studies Program at UT St. George

Installation Poster 1

On Display from June 19th to October 31st 2014 / Robarts Library / 2nd Floor South Portico

Curated by Susan Blight, Jill Carter, Taylor MacLean, Sara McDowell, and Connor Pion

As Indigenous people in Canada struggle to revitalize and preserve our languages, we are faced with some interesting challenges. Regardless of our level of proficiency with an Aboriginal language, learners and teachers alike are carried into the necessary project of translation – translation of treaties (paper, wampum, covenant chains, medals), or earth works, or of oral archives (story, song, regalia, ceremonial objects). The “written” archives that have been left for Indigenous peoples across Canada present those of us who labour to recover our cultural legacies with unique challenges and compelling questions.

As repositories of written archives, libraries too must examine their relationships with Indigenous languages. Can we break from our colonial legacy to become true partners in the endeavor to revitalize Indigenous languages and bring them further into our day-to-day lives on this land?

This exhibit showcases the three Indigenous languages that are currently taught at the University of Toronto: OnΛyota’a:ka (Oneida), Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe), and Inuktitut, as well as selected titles from other Haudenosaunee languages  and Nēhiyawēwin (Cree). The majority of the items showcased are available in the University of Toronto Libraries’ collections.

The exhibit reflects the daily lives of Indigenous language learners at the University of Toronto. It reflects the role that each generation plays in the process of learning and passing on the languages and taking linguistic expression in new directions. It provides examples of how written publications, largely created by independent Indigenous publishers and academic presses, contribute to the process. Supplementary web sites demonstrate the use of video and social media. The exhibit shows us how ultimately the language is rooted in the life of the land as it moves through the seasons.

Kitipentamowinaanan ekwa kimoocikewinaanan Anishinaabewiyak ci kanohkeyak aanti e onciyak ekwa miina ci aapacitoyak kikikinoohamaatowinaanan tahso kiishik.

It is our inheritance and responsibility as Anishinaabe people to remember where we come from and to use our teachings every day. (Alex McKay)

Additional Resources

Aboriginal Studies Language Courses:

Aboriginal Studies 2014-2015 Course Timetable

Indigenous Language Short Films

Aboriginal Languages

First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Publishers and Distributors

Thank You! Miikwec!! Nia: wen!

Thank you to First Nations House, the Jackman Humanities Institute Program for the Arts, and the University of Toronto Libraries for their sponsorship. Thank you to Jackie Hamlin-Esquimaux and the First Nations House Resource Centre, OISE Library, UTL Information Technology Services, Information Commons, International and Community Outreach Coordinating Group, Alana Johns, Rosa Na, Anita Benedict, Jennifer Toews and Margaret Wall, for their contributions and assistance.