Friday, 30 May 2014

A Few Thoughts from Finland

By Lisa Dixon, 2nd year MDP student

I have been in Inari, Finland for over five weeks now, and the experience has been great so far.  As I write this, I cannot believe that my placement is now more than half way finished and I will soon be entering into my last month here!  I have had one main project to work on, developing the English content for the CASLE project website.  CASLE was a one-year program in which professionals from the village of Inari and nearby areas took an intensive Inari Sami language course in order to create new speakers in the age group of 26-59.  The Inari Sami language, like so many other Indigenous languages is a very endangered language and CASLE has been a big part of the revitalization of the language. 

My partner, Heli and I began by translating interviews with the 21 Language Masters involved in the program, this was an amazing teaching tool for me, as I learned about the geography of the area, the Finnish experiences during WW11, the changing realities after the war and inevitably, the decline of the Inari Sami language.  Since then we have been busy doing more translations and setting up a big project for the month of June, involving the students of the program creating digital stories of their language learning experience.  

Inari, Finland
I’ve also fallen in love with the beauty of Northern Finland.  The scenery has been well worth the chilly temperatures so far!  This picture is a view I see every morning on my walk to work!  Today is also the first day of the ‘midnight sun’, when the sun doesn’t set for a period of about 2 ½ months.

 I’ve also been able to attend and be a part of different events in the community.  It is impossible to talk about them all in this blog, but I will share one story that happened earlier this morning! My partner, Heli also works at the Sami Radio and every Friday does a three-hour show in the Inari Sami language along with another broadcaster.  I was interviewed this morning and got a tour of the building! Among the topics of conversation: the hockey game from the previous night in which Finland beat Canada, how I ended up in Inari (which I find is always a popular question), land rights, interesting foods in Inari, including blood sausages, and of course, the weather!

Lisa Dixon being interviewed for Sami Radio
Sami Radio

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Reflections on the UCN Placement

By Heidi Cook, MDP student

The University College of the North (UCN) is an invaluable resource for education and development in northern Manitoba. You don’t hear much about it in southern Manitoba but UCN is all over the north with two campuses and twelve regional centres. They are doing some really great things, like implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) for one. 

Pisew Falls, south of Thompson, Manitoba

There are plenty of opportunities, big and small, to connect UNDRIP to on-the-ground action. At UCN a big focus is on Aboriginal content and perspectives being reflected in the curriculum. This goes a long way to promote understanding and combat discrimination, one of the goals of the Declaration.

When the outgoing academic specialist sends you her position advertisement, you know you did a pretty good job. I expected to learn about UCN and the Natural Resources Management Technology (NRMT) program through conversations and observing meetings, however there were opportunities for me to get more involved in the program review by doing some research and providing context for the review. 

The people you meet really are the best part of the placement experience. In both my placements I have made lifelong friendships and expanded my professional network.

Elder Stella Neff, UCN Elders Council