Our Cree language began to be taught to our students with the opening of Iskonigan School, the predecessor of Joe A.Ross School. It has taken commitment by dedicated teachers and community members who have spent a great deal of time not only working with our students, but also in creating the resources required.Language is connected to culture and one’s roots and identity. Elders tell us that it is important to speak your Aboriginal language because our languages are tied to knowing who you are in the core of your soul. (First Nations Congress 1991)In 2006, after extensive research of effective language reclamation and retention models, an enhanced Cree language immersion program was implemented. With over 80% of caregivers enrolling their children in the new Kindergarten Cree Program, the community was in acceptance mode for true language revitalization.After only one year, the initiative yielded measurable, overwhelmingly positive results, and to ensure continuity, each year a grade has been added to the immersion program. The school year 2011-12 has Cree language instruction from PreK to grade 5. Joe A. Ross School’s education program highlights the following:
- both Cree Immersion and English tracks from PreK to grade 5;
- high Elder involvement and participation in classrooms;
- inclusion of local history teachings at every grade level;
At Oscar Lathlin Collegiate Our Cree program is offered to the Grade 7’s to 9’s as a regularly scheduled class,and we offer the classes to Grades 10, 11, and 12 as a challenge credit. OES is particularly proud of our achievements in this area.