Today, Cape Breton University’s Unama’ki College formally named its language lab in honour of the late Kji-keptin Alexander Denny (1940-2004). The dedication ceremony took place at 11 a.m., beginning in the Boardmore Playhouse and continuing into the newly named Kji-keptin Alexander Denny L’nui’sultimkeweyo’kuom (Alexander Denny Language Lab) for an official ribbon cutting presentation.
“At Cape Breton University we are committed to educating the next generation of Aboriginal community leaders while being mindful of the importance of preserving Mi’kmaw heritage and culture. The Alexander Denny Language Lab exemplifies CBU’s focus on achieving this and today’s dedication is a wonderful testament to a man who strongly believed in the value of sustaining culture – a man who has achieved great things for his People. Alexander Denny was passionate about his People, their traditions and especially their language. The Language Lab at CBU’s Unama’ki College will ensure that Mr. Denny’s legacy continues – that the Mi’kmaw language continues to thrive,” says CBU President John Harker.
The Kji-keptin Alexander Denny L’nui’sultimkeweyo’kuom is a focal point for academic research activity at Unama’ki College. The lab, which has partnerships with numerous Mi’kmaw educational authorities as well as academic institutions, is engaged in several long term research projects. Current projects include Mi’kmaw pain words; the online talking Mi’kmaw dictionary; and the online Mi’kmaw Language Centre known as JILAPTOQ. The lab is also equipped with a state-of-the-art Polycom unit which, through a partnership with the Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey (Mi'kmaw Education Authority) in Membertou, allows for video conferencing to take place with other First Nation communities throughout the country. In fact, with the use of this technology, Tuesday’s event was live streamed to each of the Atlantic Canadian band offices.
“The Language Lab is a way for the Unama’ki College to engage and mentor Mi’kmaw undergraduate student researchers interested in working on Mi’kmaw language linguistic research,” says Dr. Stephanie Inglis, Director of the Alexander Denny Language Lab. “Kji-keptin Alexander Denny was such an important role model for keeping the Mi’kmaw language strong; he would be truly proud of the work being done here and the amount of young people utilizing the lab and getting involved in the research. It only seemed natural to name the language lab in dedication to him.”
Kji-keptin Alexander Denny was, and continues to be, a prominent figure in the Aboriginal community and the cause and struggle for Mi’kmaw sovereignty. Denny dedicated his life to bringing to light issues the Mi’kmaw nation face, working toward finding and implementing solutions and as a result played a key role in building the Mi’kmaw nation as we know it today. He was a man with great vision who believed unwaveringly that the Mi’kmaw language was key to his nation’s prosperity.
The late morning event included remarks from several members of the University and Aboriginal communities, as well as an address from Brian Skabar, Ministerial Assistant, Office of Nova Scotia Aboriginal Affairs. A video presentation created in honour of Mr. Denny was shown and a traditional meal was served to guests. Entertainment for the event was provided by young Mi’kmaw singer, Kaloline Johnson, as well as Michael R. Denny who was accompanied by the Stoney Bear Drum Group.
For more information on the Kji-keptin Alexander Denny L’nui’sultimkeweyo’kuom visit www.cbu.ca/alex-denny-lab.