Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre is hosting online classes for the Iroquoian language Oneida through Zoom, a video chat platform.
“It was the students who asked for these classes to take place and that is what I’m working for [:] to meet the needs of students to the best of my ability,” wrote Al Doxtator, the facilitator of the language classes for Four Directions, in a statement to The Journal.
The language classes are scheduled as four free sessions, with the first session on April 3.
“Students are very eager to learn Oneida and other Indigenous languages,” wrote Allison Loft, Indigenous events and program assistant at Four Directions, in a statement to The Journal.
Oneida is one of the Six Nation Confederacy First Nations and is spoken in communities throughout the United States and Canada. As there are only a small handful of native Oneida speakers remaining today, language revitalization efforts are in progress.
“[Language revitalization] is a medicine in many ways for our people,” Loft wrote. “We hope more students decide to join.”
Loft wrote that, for native speakers, Oneida was their first language spoken before residential schools and Indian day schools forced them to leave it behind. According to Loft, the Faculty of Education has been making other language revitalization efforts in recent years.
Four Directions is also offering other support programs for students during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as its weekly “Tea with 4D,” which allows students to connect with staff through Zoom and creates a space for them to voice their needs for the upcoming weeks.
“It is also a time to just to check in and enjoy each other’s company,” wrote Loft.
Many of the Four Directions staff have also been working remotely to ensure they’re available to concerned students.
“The staff are dedicated to the success of Indigenous students at Queen’s. All our staff are available for students to contact,” wrote Loft.
Loft wrote that Lisa Doxtator, cultural counsellor, is offering remote counselling for Indigenous students. She also mentioned that Keira LaPierre, interim Indigenous advisor and Indigenous community outreach coordinator, is working to connect students with the academic, financial, and emotional support resources they need.
“We encourage any other resources be sent our way for our students to utilize,” wrote Loft.
Four Directions is also looking into other assistance options available, so they can communicate the information forward to students.
“Our main concern is the safety and welfare of our students. We want to ensure our students’ voices are heard regarding programming and supports during these unprecedented times.”
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