Mawkina’masultinej: Let’s Learn Together! Indigenous Languages

Inquiring Into Indigneous Langauges

On this page you will find resources and curriculum connections to help you lead students through an inquiry unit on Indigenous languages and the importance of maintaining and revitalizing Indigenous languages, particularly Mi’kmaq. This project was inspired by the students of We’koqma’q Mi’kmaw School who made the following video. This video should be used to begin this unit.

What is Inquiry?

Inquiry is the result of human beings’ wonderings and curiosities about the natural or constructed world (Barell, 2008; Krauss, 2013). Our natural inquisitiveness is the driving force to ask questions and formulate means of authentic learning, and it is this inquisitiveness and passion that moves us forward (Krauss, 2013; The National Science Foundation, ND; Pahomov, 2014) and pushes our ability to think in critical, creative and divergent ways (Bateman, 1990; Krauss, 2013). IBL is a student-centred learning process that emphasizes the importance of motivating students to engage in and learn through the process of purposeful experiential investigations and research in order to better understand the world (Abuhimed, Beheshti, Cole, AlGhamdi & Lamoureux, 2013; Galileo Educational Network, 1999-2014; Kanter & Konstantopoulos, 2010; Prince, 2004; Rusche & Jason, 2011). Inquiry invites children to explore questions of interest to them related to a given topic. Through inquiry, students can cover a large number of curriculum outcomes through authentically exploring a topic of relevance to them.

Why inquire into Indigenous Langauges?

According to UNESCO (, there are eighty-seven languages that are in danger of becoming extinct in Canada; the Mi’kmaw language is included in that list.  Losing the Mi’kmaw language does not only pose a threat to the loss of a way of communicating, it also represents the loss of a culture.  The act of making birch bark baskets, canoes, respecting the earth, and the way of seeing the world and everything in it exists within the Mi’kmaw language.  It is particularly important for the youth to take part in the act of maintaining and revitalizing the Mi’kmaw language, as it is their role and responsibility to learn about, understand and respect the language and culture.  By allowing students to learn about the language, the danger that it is in and what the language represents to their community and culture, students can become active in retaining the Mi’kmaw language and culture.

How do I connect this to Curriculum?

Teachers are encouraged to use the Inquiry Project Details below for the appropriate grade. These projects include links to provincial Mathematics (WNCP), Science, Social, English Language Arts, Mi’kmaq Language, and other content area outcomes. These guides also contain examples of essential questions that can be used to start an inquiry project on Indigenous Languages. There are also suggestions about how the Language inquiry fits within various units within the curricula.
  • Language Inquiry: Grade 4 (coming soon)
  • Language Inquiry: Grade 5 (coming soon)
  • Language Inquiry: Grade 6 (coming soon)
  • Language Inquiry: Grade 7 (coming soon)
  • Language Inquiry: Grade 8 (coming soon)

Student Work

Check out a Langauge video by Rankin School inspired by this project.