Kiiloona Ktakiinsihna (We read)
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Since the arrival of the Europeans in North America, languages spoken by First Peoples have struggled for survival. Widespread conflict and disease significantly reduced the numbers of language speakers. Government action, in form of treaties, the Indian Act, residential schooling and official languages (French and English) further reduced the ability for First Peoples to maintain and converse in their original language. Lunaape (Munsee or Delaware) language use has been reduced to less than 75 speakers who have varying ability to converse in written and oral form. The language exists in my community, Munsee-Delaware First Nation, only with second-language learners. Community members can access the language through community classes, daycare, elementary school, and a course at Western University. Research regarding first- and second-language acquisition and revitalization has been well documented. Best practices include full immersion programs, the use of multimedia, and social media, language nests, language camps and, above all, community support. Inspired by the work of Restoule, Gruner, and Metatawabin (2013), I want to promote second-language reading with strong community connections on Munsee-Delaware First Nation. As with Restoule et al. (2013), this will come through personal story, culture, traditional practices, and language. Important, as well, is the engagement of community members in sharing their knowledge and willingness to “re-learn” the language. These connections will support building relevance in language revitalization for community members. Important for use is the relevance of language to the community members and ultimately community learners. According to by Baloy (2011), engaging language learners today involves a multi-level approach that incorporates technology, social media, and applications. While maintaining traditional learning by face-to-face interaction and print media, it is important to include new methods of student engagement in order that community members see the language in “modern” use. My proposed project is to create levelled readers to promote reading in Lunaape, thus honouring my community’s unique geographical location and environment. From these readers, my hope is to create a starting point for community members to engage with language both for community classes and in local provincial schools.