Students compete to show Indigenous language skills

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

Gagwe-gikendamaawiziwin, formerly known as Quest for Knowledge, took place on May 27. Teams from five area schools competed to show their skills in Anishinaabemowin language at Seven Generations Education Institute.

According to one of the lead co-ordinators, this year was the 22nd annual competition. Having had to shift to virtual competitions during the pandemic, this was the first in-person competition in a few years.

Students competed in two divisions, grades five and six as well as seven and eight came from Crossroads Public School in Devlin, Donald Young Public School in Emo, J.W. Walker School, Fort Frances High School Intermediate and St. Mary School in Fort Frances, and Mine Centre Public School in Mine Centre.

“Gagwe-gikendamaawiziwin can be understood as ‘trying to learn and to understand with purpose,” the co-ordinator said.

Students from all backgrounds — both Indigenous and non-Indigenous — participated in a series of competitions testing the language skills they have learned throughout the school year.

Students give their diorama presentation at the Gagwe-gikendamaawiziwin Anishinaabemowin language competition. The competition brought students from across the region to show case their skills. -Allan Bradbury photo

When it comes to non-Indigenous students learning Indigenous language, the co-ordinator says that everyone who lives here should have the option.

“We’re all treaty partners, and this is everyone’s home,” he said. “If people have a love for the language, and if people appreciate it and have fun with it, by all means, it’s always inclusive.”

Competitions included Win, Lose, or Draw, where students had to draw a word or phrase given to them in Anishinaabemowin and their team had to answer, similar to Pictionary; Jeopardy! where students had to answer questions; Create a word had students creating a new word in Anishinaabemowin to represent a ‘Speech presentation’ and ‘diorama presentation.’

Some of the stations had students preparing for some time.

“In two of the stations, the diorama presentation and the speech presentation. Many students have been spending the last few months bringing skills that intersect with their interests and what they enjoy,” the coordinator said. “It ranges from local history to embedded philosophy into language and other very high-level stuff.”

Final results

Senior DivisionJunior Division
1st Place: St. Mary1st Place: Donald Young
2nd Place: Donald Young2nd Place: St. Mary
3rd Place: Crossroads School3rd Place: JW Walker School