University launches new certificate in Mohawk language & culture

Two-year certificate passed at senate in April 

Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), the Director of Indigenous Initiatives at Queen’s.

On June 21, the University announced the launch of a new certificate in Mohawk language and culture for Tyendinaga community members.

The program is set to begin Aug. 13, and the deadline to apply is July 30 of this year.

The program will be delivered in the Tsi Tyonnheht Objwawena (TTO) Language and Culture centre in Tyendinaga, Mohawk Territory. The certificate targets members of the Mohawk community who want to explore the cultural, spiritual, and historical traditions of the Mohawk community at a post-secondary level. 

In an interview with The Journal, Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), the Director of Indigenous Initiatives at Queen’s, strongly advocated for the new program. 

“The certificate will provide the students a basic understanding of post-secondary education, and will familiarize the young Mohawk community with the ability to learn at a university level,” she said. 

According to Hill, students who graduate from the program will have a foundational knowledge of the Mohawk language, and will be able to have limited conversation as well as recite various speeches and passages. 

Hill explained the certificate is attractive for individuals who may not be of the age or maturity to live separately from family members, but who still want to achieve a post-secondary education. 

She also touched on the opportunities the program offers for young Tyendinaga students, which allow them to take courses while remaining in a familiar community.  

Talks of the partnership began in 2016, when the Tyendinaga and Mohawk council considered an accredited program for students within Tyendinaga. 

The certificate was based on considerations from previous programs that experienced success. According to Hill, the most promising results were found when an accredited program was introduced within the community. 

The program will offer opportunities such as engaging and interacting with elders and sharing cultural knowledge. 

The course will be comprised of a week of instruction during the summer, two weekend days per month, one evening a week, as well as 19 hours of online training. The certificate is continued over a two-year time frame.

The program is targeted to both enrich Tyendinaga students’ cultural knowledge and understanding as well as further Mohawk traditions and practices within the community. 

Hill expanded on the various foundations that the certificate provides for Tyendinaga and the surrounding community, “there are opportunities within the program itself and there are opportunities for those who graduate.” 

The program will also create more options for members of the Tyendinaga community, with all credits available applying towards a Bachelor’s degree.

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