M’Chigeeng First Nation expands Ngwaaganak immersion program

M’Chigeeng’s Lakeview School on a sunny September day. photo by Lori Thompson

M’CHIGEENG – Lakeview School in M’Chigeeng is expanding its Anishinaabemowin immersion program.

Ngwaaganak has expanded to another grade this year at Lakeview School. M’Chigeeng leadership is committed to the language as a key component to the success of students.

“The Ngwaaganak program is a holistic approach to learning that benefits the learner and all their gifts,” said M’Chigeeng Ogimaa-kwe Linda Debassige, in a release. “We currently have 46 students in the program. The Ngwaaganak program strives to include community in the development and execution of the program.”

Community outreach and participation will establish on-going learning in the areas of language, culture, traditions and history. The program recognizes and celebrates the rich knowledge of elders and community members. This team approach to language acquisition will benefit the school and M’Chigeeng First Nation as a whole.

“M’Chigeeng First Nation has had a commitment to language learning for many years. We are always trying to find creative ways to support language development. The Ngwaaganak program will continue to be developed over time with feedback from elders, community, parents, teachers, Indigenous scholars and most importantly, our students,” said Ogimaa-kwe Debassige. 

The immersion-based program was created as a need for students in M’Chigeeng who were previously enrolled in Mnidoo Mnising Anishinabek Kinoomaage (MMAK) Anishinaabemowin Immersion School and for a new model of current Lakeview School students. The name “Ngwaaganuk” was selected by the group of students and means, ‘many rainbows,’ which is a reflection of the learners in the program.

The program includes experiential learning, inquiry-based learning, holistic and integrated learning and the Reggio Emilia approach. The educational instruction and assessment are grounded in Indigenous education pedagogy that is supported by Indigenous research by Indigenous scholars.