Students will be able to obtain certificates in Indigenous languages for the first time at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) starting this fall.

A memorandum of understanding signed today between the College of Education and the College of Arts and Science marks a formal commitment to work together in the delivery of services and programs such as language certificates. The agreement promises new opportunities for enhancing First Nations, Métis, and Inuit programming at the U of S.

In September, the College of Education will launch a new Indigenous Language Certificate, and this year the College of Arts and Science will hire its first tenure-track faculty position focused on Cree language—a step towards offering a Certificate of Proficiency in Cree Language through the Department of Native Studies.

“The partnership between our colleges has allowed us to be more innovative than either of us could be on our own,” said Lawrence Martz, vice-dean of the Division of Social Sciences at the College of Arts and Science. “These certificate programs will provide exciting new opportunities for all of our students and signal a growing recognition of the ways in which Indigenous languages and cultures enrich our society. I hope this is just the beginning, and our partnership will open the way to further academic and cultural collaborations.”

The College of Education’s Indigenous Language Certificate will be a two-year, 10-course program offered through its Department of Curriculum Studies and anchored by the Indian Teacher Education Program. The certificate will initially focus on Cree, followed by Michif, with other Indigenous languages to be added in the future. The Indigenous Language Certificate is recognized by the Ministry of Education as a specialized qualification for teachers in Saskatchewan.

The College of Arts and Science’s Certificate of Proficiency in Cree Language is still in development, but is planned to be a five- to ten-course program devoted to Cree language skills offered alongside or independently of an undergraduate degree.

“When we consider the positive correlation between Indigenous knowledge, language and culture to Indigenous student learning and success, it compels us to create partnerships that best allow for the advancement of Indigenous knowledge, language and culture here at the University of Saskatchewan,” said Michelle Prytula, dean of the College of Education. “We look forward to our collaboration with Arts and Science, and the many advancements that will come from it.”

Through the new agreement, students will potentially be able to take Cree language courses from both colleges to fulfill the requirements of either certificate.

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