Métis educator keeps language and history alive in Sooke School District – Victoria News

National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21) offers a chance to come together to celebrate and learn about Métis, First Nations and Inuit traditions. But for Jo-Ina Young, it’s only one day out of 365 that she spends teaching others about her Indigenous culture.

As Director of Cultural Education for the Greater Victoria Métis Nation and resident Métis Elder at John Stubbs Memorial School, Young teaches students about Métis culture and history. She teaches them history, Michif – the language of the Métis – as well as traditional songs and dances.

Being taught by a resident elder allows students to make a closer connection to local indigenous cultures, she said. And they’re more eager to learn than she expected, especially dances like the Red River Jig.

“Man, they are good. They are dancing a storm. At this age, it is difficult to get children to do this normally.

Young also teaches at John Stubbs and other schools using his puppet/assistant teacher Rosie.

“I learned ventriloquism thanks to the teacher who said ‘Jo-Ina shut up’, and I didn’t want to shut up. So I just learned to speak without moving my mouth,” she said.

Using a puppet helps children learn a song in a new language or learn history, but it also engages adults, as Young discovered when she and Rosie presented to the Métis Nation of British Columbia.

Young has been involved with the Sooke School District for several years, but this is her first full year as a resident elder. In 2020, she won a Victoria Community Leadership Lifelong Learner Award for her work as an educator.

Her work in schools is important to help preserve her language, she said, but major events such as the celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21) at Royal Roads University are helping to open doors to people who may not have had the opportunity to learn in school. .

“It’s really wonderful for people to come and see the culture,” said Young, one of the event organizers. “It just makes people start talking. And once you get people talking, then they learn a bit and learn that we’re not that mysterious. Sometimes it’s an easy place to ask a question, because often people are afraid to ask a question in case they think they might be asking it wrong. When you get to one of those things, everyone is right there to answer questions.

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