Cayuga language and culture will be celebrated during the second annual Cayuga Language Café on Wednesday, March 29 from 1 to 3 p.m. in Brock’s Welch Hall.
The Brock community is invited to visit WH 303 any time during the event to learn about language resources developed by students in the Introduction to Cayuga course taught by Bobby Henry, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education.
Henry and his students aim to promote awareness of Cayuga, an Indigenous language local to Brock, and the importance of preserving Indigenous languages.
Cayuga is an Iroquoian language spoken mainly along the Grand River in southern Ontario. Just 65 people listed Cayuga as their mother tongue in the 2021 census. A number of Canada’s Indigenous languages are vulnerable or endangered according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
One of Henry’s goals as an Indigenous language instructor is to help others understand the importance of language as a lens for understanding Indigenous cultures.
“In essence, we speak who we are through language,” says Henry. “Our language was given to us by our Creator and passed down to us through time. Students learning this language grow to better understand how language and culture work in tandem with one another.”
For Ryanne Logan, a fifth-year Neuroscience student, the course has been an opportunity to learn more about other Indigenous cultures around her. Logan is Lenape, from the Delaware Nation near Chatham-Kent, and is a member of the Turtle Clan. She is pursuing a minor in Indigenous Studies.
The Introduction to Cayuga course has also helped Logan navigate the journey of learning her own traditional language. There are currently very few people who can speak Lenape, also known as Lunaape.
“This course has helped to guide me through the process of learning and understanding an Indigenous language, and has given me great insight into steps to take to learn my language,” she says.