Partnerships Bring Cree Language Course to School Division
November 2, 2020

The Introductory Cree Language course first ran as a pilot in the spring of 2020 through the Community Adult Learning Program in Elk Point and Frog Lake Cree Nation with 80 students. Funded by the Dual Credit Startup grant, this online course is now bringing excitement to classrooms within the Northern Lights Public School Division (NLPS). Over this fall semester, 35 faculty and staff from this school division are engaging in this excellent learning experience.

Connie Twin and Tanya Fontaine, who worked with Portage College to design the interactive online course, have been working with Mark Centazzo, the previous Dual Credit Coordinator with Northern Lights Public School Division, to develop the current offering. Future offerings of this course will be open to NLPS students.

“Meaningful change results from willing partners! This Cree Language course is an example of a partnership in action,” emphasized Jimmi Lou Irvine, Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning at NLPS. “The staff at Portage College took on the responsibility of designing an interactive course, led by quality, engaging instructors. As a result, our Northern Lights Public School staff are able to participate as students and model a commitment to learning. The opportunity to collaborate and support one another in their efforts to learn another language has been powerful.”

A tweet sent out by Ms. Jackie Densmore, a teacher with NLPS on Oct 15, speaks to the excitement by instructors and students.

 Tweet by Ms. Densmore
“We are officially working hard at our morning messages! The kiddos are so pumped to read and try to figure out the new words. Love hearing "Look Ms. Densmore learned new words" in excitement.❤” 

When Portage College reached out to Ms. Densmore she wrote, “I appreciate the opportunity, as this learning has helped to facilitate ongoing relationships and connectedness with all our kiddos as we learn together.”

Irvine explains how this course will affect relationships, “Staff have expressed that learning Cree helps them honor the students and families they serve. Our staff are very aware of the history of residential schools and their contribution to language loss for many generations of students. For [teachers and staff], as they serve local families and students, this is one small act they can do to ensure the current generation of students know they are valued, that we acknowledge the importance of their language and culture and that they are welcome in our classrooms.”

“We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Portage College and look forward to the next step with the Cree Language course, as we finalize the plans to offer the program to our students in the new year,” Concluded Irvine.

Media Inquiries:
Jaime Davies, Corporate Communications Manager 
780-623-5581 or email

We acknowledge that Portage College’s service region is on the traditional lands of First Nation Peoples, the owners of Treaty 6, 8 and 10, which are also homelands to the Métis people. We honour the history and culture of all people who first lived and gathered in these lands.
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