9 year old girl in Sandy Bay says she was warned not to use Indigenous language during prayer in school

Brittany Hobson
APTN National News
A nine year old girl was recently reprimanded by her bible school teacher after speaking her native language in a class held at her community school.

Crystal Jr Roulette of Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation said she is now scared to speak the Ojibway language she’s been learning at home.

Crystal Jr. said she chose to end her class prayer with Meegwetch instead of amen and then her teacher became upset with her.

“I said’ ‘Meegwetch’ and then she (the teacher) went in the hallway and then I went to the washroom,” explained Crystal Jr. “And she stopped me and then she said that…’You will not use that language in
my class. Do I make myself clear?’”

Her mother Crystal Roulette is furious about the incident. She’s been teaching her children the almost lost language since they were born.

“There’s a lot that I’m learning too. I locked out my Anishinabe language and that’s why my kid’s first language is English. It’s supposed to be Ojibway. But for this woman to come and say
this to my baby? No,” said Crystal who believes what happened to her daughter goes against everything she’s been teaching her children.

She then reached out to chief and council to address her concerns. The chief filed a complaint to the director of education, George Beaulieu, on February 7th asking the school to look into the teacher’s behavior.

As of now, Crystal said the teacher is still in the classroom.

APTN reached out to Beaulieau for a comment but he refused to speak on the allegations.

Crystal hopes other families won’t have to go through the same thing.

“No more tormenting for my children. No more tormenting for us or for the community as well, regardless of their actions.”

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42 thoughts on “9 year old girl in Sandy Bay says she was warned not to use Indigenous language during prayer in school

  1. Why are they even praying in school?

    Also, the TRC 94 recommendations have expressed the need to use, celebrate and protect our Native languages. What rock has this teacher and it’s Administrator been sleeping under?

    And, today, February 21st, is International Mother Language Day, as per UNESCO, 1999.

    UNESCO celebrates International Mother Language Day (IMLD) on February 21, 2017 under the theme “Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education”. To foster sustainable development, learners must have access to education in their mother tongue and in other languages. It is through the mastery of the first language or mother tongue that the basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy are acquired. Local languages, especially minority and indigenous, transmit cultures, values and traditional knowledge, thus playing an important role in promoting sustainable futures.


  2. I have been working in isolated communities in the north for 6 years now, and I would never tell one of my students not to use their language, ( Even when they use it to make jokes at my expense, since I don’t speak it myself ). Keep on using your language, and if someone doesn’t like it, the problem is with them, not you.

  3. Keep teaching your children there ancestral language! Clearly someone needs to have a history lesson and someone with that view needs to be relieved of there position!

  4. I just want to jump on the ground and turn around and pull the teachers hair out. I wish i new my native tongue to be able to have taught that to my children. The goverment took that away from my mother in residental school. Now you want to be mean to a child who is learning this from her mom. Thank the creator. How dare you harm that child. What and she still working there i see law suit.

  5. Everyone it’s behaviour not behavior!

    It’s absolutely ridiculous that Crystal Jnr cannot speak her mothers tongue! The teacher in question should be sacked. This is Australia , not America not even dear old England.
    I praise Crystal for teaching her daughter her language

  6. That language shouldn’t be used anyways, they believe that our spirits don’t speak English that’s not true, our spirits speak every language, but if that’s how you take it than okay, they also shouldn’t be smudging in IBMS it makes me and other people very sick.
    -Bkandrd Smile:)

  7. Bible studies and shaming a child for using her own language? The young girl was showing respect by using a part of her culture in a deeply significant gesture. The teacher should be required to do an in depth study of residential schools, express their thoughts in a detailed report and apologize to that child. Termination might not teach anything. People can change with evidence. If that teacher changes nothing then terminate and their actions should be part of a permanent record that follows them.

  8. In a case as precious as this..the outcome can only be one thing…dismissal..and replaced by a person who truly values the original language and values of the people who the work for..one who loves children..building their spirits..no other outcome is acceptable!…STAND TOGETHER AS A PEOPLE..ONE ARROW CAN EASILY BE BROKEN BUT A BUNCH TOGETHER IS UNBREAKABLE…I will be praying for youse all

  9. I’m impressed that they still have class prayer,,,lighten up teacher let the students say Amen in any language,,,we are a multicultural country,,,I think the principle should have a talk with her an apology to the child,but not loose her job over this,,

  10. I hope someone starts a petition to have this mean teacher removed from the school. She’s not paid to stomp out culture, if she is then she’s as bad a racist, not someone who should teach young children anything.

  11. Sandy Bay is all catholic. The graveyard is catholic the church is catholic. Heck when I went to school there I was taught about religion by actual nuns. I myself don’t think religion should be in any school. If anything maybe they should teach the students about traditions and respect for elders before religion.

  12. You keep your head little girl and speak your language French was my first language and then I learned English I’d love to learn your language you just stay positive and don’t let anyone bring you down you have every right to speak your language and god bless

  13. I have to say that this is unacceptable. This stinks of the sins of the past. You teach that little girl Ojibwe. You keep it alive! And you tell that teacher to keep her language bias to herself. >:(

  14. I think that the teacher should being given an opportunity to speak with the same reporter and represent her side of the story. APTN should look at both sides before they start reporting a very one sided story.
    This teacher is an active member of the community and upstanding person. She is a loving and caring person and does lots for the community and these children. Seek the truth!

  15. I think the reporter should get the other side of the story. The truth of this could be tested by speaking with other children in the school to see if anyone else has been told to stop speaking their language. Did anyone witness this comment?
    I am amongst many who believe the teacher is a wonderful role model and an encouragement to the children. She is an upstanding member of the community. Her love for the children and families is evident in many ways. Seek the truth!!!

  16. This is wrong on many levels! If I go to a Catholic school in Quebec may I pray in English??? I would hope so but maybe not. Regardless, in Canada she can pray to whom she wants in whatever language she chooses. The teacher should not be allowed to decide that for her as it is a communication between the student and the higher powe she believes in. It’s not the teachers job to decide this on the students behalf. Come on ppl it’s 2017 for crying out loud!!!! Makes me angry

  17. How is it that we still have educators that think like this teacher in 2017. With so much publicity about the TRC how is it that she thinks she can still try to use such draconian views about our languages. It is sickening.

  18. This teacher needs to be fired or at the very least transferred to a school where she can’t do any damage. School systems protect incompetent teachers by giving them tenure. We deserve better

  19. If the school won’t do anything lets bring this to national news! Share this story with #meegwetch on every social media site you can! This should not be allowed!

  20. WTH????? is this teacher serious? Doesn’t she read the news?? we are not allowing this kind of B.S. anymore with our people. If anything, Crystal’s remark after prayer (Meegwetch) should have been regarded as educational, to her fellow students as well as the teacher. We, the first nation people, have fought too hard to let this happen to our children in this day and age, she should consider herself lucky, because if it was my child I would have tore a piece out her in a heartbeat! Meegwetch to you Crystal, for telling you mother! You are a brave, smart, and beautiful kwe! (p.s. keep learning your/our language!)

  21. That teacher should be required to deliver the prayer and more in the native language. Is this the age of reconciliation or is it not??

  22. I am a christian man and I too believe it was wrong for the teacher to do that to the child. Everyone is unique and different in the eyes of God. He made us all different. Megwetch is the same thing as thank you. It is just a religious attitude by this teacher.

  23. My grandchildren are Ojibwa heritage and they were taught the language at a very young age. Their Mother being white beloved they should learn the language of their fathers family. Continue on and keep the language alive..MEEGWETCH

  24. Unbelievable! If the teacher in non-native, cultural sensitivity training should have been the prerequisite for teachers before accepting the job!!! One wonders the quality of teachers that teach in indigenous communities. The fine should be the mandatory reading of the whole Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report, and providing a summary understanding. Where are these teachers from anyway? Do they not know what’s going on in 2017?

  25. why are you having bible study in school ,that is also unaccepable.but make sure the teacher of God’s word is really one of God’s people this woman is obviously not our Native languages are being replaced next the whites will replace our history fire her now

  26. Chi Meegwetch to Christal and Christal jr ,,, and Prayers of encouragement to continue with learning your language. The language is beautiful and your Strength and determination to bring it back into your home and your lives is very important. The teacher needs sensitivity training minimally and this school needs to re-evaluate what they are there to teach. Not cover it up and ignore the issue.

  27. That poor family. That incident is outrageous. That goes back to what happened in residential school. Why are we not moving forward and embracing and respecting the beautiful languages of the original landholders here in Canada? And for a mother to bring it back after it has been lost takes so much strength and determination because within the language holds so much of the culture and beliefs. How heartbreaking that this happened. If they keep that teacher she needs major cultural sensitivity training that’s for sure!

    1. That is ridiculous and sooo madenning, m glad to hear native women want to preserve our language. The fact the school allows this is is sickening.What is wrong with people????

    2. Fire her!!! She obviously has issues with the native language. Her attitude is obviously judgement and disgust, not to mention lacking in the Love department. You and your children have suffered enough abuse already. Why let her dumb ass add to it? I wouldn’t her 10 feet near my kid.

  28. This absolutely unacceptable. This women has just put native language back to residential schools. She needs to be fired and remove for her disgusting behaviour. I feel so very sorry for this little girl and her family.

  29. This teacher is not educated enough to teach in a native school. They should go back and take Native Studies, even learn the native language, learn about the culture. This is outrageous in this day and age!! Is this a religious private school? Keep speaking your language Crystal, your teacher is very ignorant and good that your mother reported her.

  30. I would also be furious. Demand she is let go. Chief should stand up to this type of behavior and say NOW we will Pray only in Ojibwa if they allow her to stay on.

  31. i think becky kew should not be able to commuinicate with our children in their school classes nd shound not be able to come in our community also why should our children not be able to speak our language our public school is not resadental school its a public school nd should be able to speak our language freely not be scared to do so i recommend that c&c do something about it what if that was ur child or niece, nephew or grandchild like really cmon lets do something about this like i said our children deserve to speak our language freely no matter what

    1. I agree with your comments….and your school is not a residential school so the same rules and regulations and curriculum should be followed in the country…..grammar and spelling at least should be studied..math….and history and geography…important subjects for one to understand the country and the world in general….the similarities and the differences. I am a believer that religion should not be a part of school curriculum…learn and follow religion at home and in places of worship. Public schools should be for teaching the other subjects…the ones that will make or break someone in the real world….churches and schools are not the real world…..good luck….this teacher needs to be admonished..and reminded that education for all should be equal…and religion has its place in the lives of those who wish to practice it…and those who do not wish to practice it…and learn to speak more than one language should not be punished…..Canada has two official languages but there are lots of people who speak another language and it should be respected.

    1. You obviously did not read the article carefully. It was a bible school teacher that rebuked her for using her own language, NOT a public school.

    2. Fire that teacher for trying to bring back the residential school system Tatics and trying to force out our native tongue to being used. Or taught to our children.
      At the end of firing her.Tell her do I make myself clear.

    3. Why is that so called teacher still teaching in school. If that was my daughter or son, I would not allow that teacher to say that to my daughter. I would go to school and have shouting match with her and tell her off. She would not be allowed to treat my daughter or son in that way.

      She has a lot of nerve to tell a student not to speak in their language or even say Meegwetch. She should be removed from that school.
      They should take out or take away bible study.

      I am angry!

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