Preserving Oneida Language – Hakweku tsi?yukwatat”lu (We are all in this together)

Oneida Nation of the Thames is a First Nation in southwestern Ontario that hopes to reclaim and revitalize its language, which has been eroded by the historical impacts of colonization and the residential school system.

The community recognizes the urgency in preserving its cultural identity for current and future generations, as the number of fluent speakers is dwindling with time, and access to language lessons is limited.

As such, there is a great need to take a different approach to Oneida language lessons that supports future fluent speakers and educators. The Nation is embarking on an ambitious project that looks to immerse a child in the Oneida language from birth, with the ripple effect expected to extend to other family members and the broader community.

Funding from the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund (IRF) will cover the annual wages of language speaker Ursula Doxtator, who will lead the project together with fluent speakers in the community. Ms. Doxtator is a teacher who has been involved with this work for many years. She leads one of the language programs in Oneida, Twatati, and is passionate about ensuring the continuation of the Oneida language for future generations. 

While the project is envisioned to span several years, the first phase is critical to setting up a solid foundation. An Indigenous-informed evaluation plan will be developed and implemented orally, as is Oneida tradition, allowing for adjustments to meet evolving goals and needs. 

Diocese of London – Southwold