Algonquin grandmothers working to preserve their language

Thirty youth from 11 Algonquin communities expected to attend the language camp.


A group of Algonquin grandmothers are setting up a new classroom for a cultural language camp about four hours north of Ottawa on traditional Algonquin territory in Quebec.

The plan is to bring 30 youth from 11 Algonquin communities with a goal in mind: preserve the Algonquin language, maybe even save it.

“They all forget everything because they’re going to school too much of the white way, not enough Algonquin, that what I see,” said Elder Lisa Thomas.

But before the camp begins in a couple of weeks a lot of preparation work was needed.

“The idea that we had was to have three big wigwams – one wigwam for the girls where they’re gonna sleep, the next wigwam will be where the boys are gonna sleep and the other ones will be a place where they’re gonna be teaching,” said Shannon Chief, an elder’s helper.

Chief said the Anishnabe Odinewin Project is something elders have talked about for several years.

Elder Rose Wawatie Beaudin said that’s because she fears the Algonquin language is in danger of being forgotten.

There’s about only three communities that really know how to speak their language,” she said, adding those communities are Rapid Lake, Grand Lake and Lac Simon.

That’s why the 13 Algonquin grandmothers decided to take action.

The camp is scheduled to run for two weeks, from July 15-25.