Pre-service Education students at Cape Breton University (CBU) will now have the choice to immerse themselves in the teaching and learning of Aboriginal language through the new Aboriginal Education Concentration option in the Bachelor of Education (BEd) program. The new elective stream was developed in consultation with community stakeholders and Unama’ki College, and officially began in the spring of 2013.
Chair of the Education Department Patrick Howard says, "The Aboriginal Education option represents the potential to realize exciting new programming opportunities when we partner with Unama'ki College and our First Nations communities to allow all our students to achieve their education goals."
The focus on celebrating and promoting the Mi’kmaw language is a core component linking the four required courses in the option. Students and instructors are thrilled with the richness and cultural significance of a flourishing and vibrant language tradition. First Nations instructors fluent in Mi’kmaq are guiding both aboriginal and non-aboriginal BEd students through courses that explore teaching models and strategies for instruction in aboriginal language acquisition.
BEd student Elizabeth Baird says, “I took the Aboriginal courses because I wanted to learn more about Aboriginal culture and teaching strategies. I plan to teach in an Inuit community and I feel much more confident about my ability to do so after taking these courses. The instructors were friendly and knowledgeable, and the learning environment was very positive. I learned many techniques and strategies that will help me be a better teacher for my students, both Native and non-Native.”
Eskasoni resident and pre-service teacher Shellena Stevens describes her experience taking the Aboriginal education option adding, ”I know more about my culture now than I did before entering these courses; they taught me the true meaning of culture and the importance of language. I will always value who I am as a Mi’kmaq and appreciate where I come from and I have the Aboriginal courses as well as the instructors to thank for that.”
The first group of students with the Concentration will graduate in fall 2014.