June 7th 2017 marked a milestone in the history of Six Nations Polytechnic (SNP) with the first ever convocation of students from the Bachelor of Arts in Ogwehoweh Languages program. This was also the first time an Indigenous institution has accredited a standalone degree.
Graduating students along with their friends and family, SNP staff and other Six Nations community members attended the event. During the convocation, there were many inspirational speeches from students and guests such as Indigenous Knowledge Guardian, Ima Johnson, all who spoke to the students in Mohawk.
Our languages in Six Nations are considered to be at risk. “According to UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, each of the six languages spoken in our community is on the list of languages that are critically endangered,” said Rebecca Jamieson, President of SNP. “Therefore, it’s of the utmost importance that we at Six Nations Polytechnic, and in the Six Nations community, do everything in our power to prevent our languages from being lost. The graduates today have shown tremendous dedication to revitalize our language, and because of their commitment our community will have more language teachers, more children speaking the language, and I could not be more proud of them.”
Students who had previously completed their Ogwehoweh Language diploma were among the first to be offered the opportunity to complete one more year of study to obtain the Bachelor of Arts Degree once SNP received ministerial consent from the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development in December 2015.
Graduates of the Bachelor of Arts in Ogwehoweh Languages for Cayuga include Bruce Longboat, Christine Jacobs, Coleen Powless, Corene Cheeseman, Karen General, Lianie Longboat and Lindsey Brooke Johnson.
Graduates of the Bachelor of Arts in Ogwehoweh Languages for Mohawk include Cynthia McQueen, Deneen Hill, Holly Styres and Sean Thompson.