Mskwaankwad Rice is one of the people run an Ojibwe language inmmersion camp for the young people in the area near Espanola, Ontario.
Photo Credit: CBC

Ojibwe immersion camp keeps language alive


Miigwech, the word for “thank you” in the Ojibwe language, is one we hear used more often in Canada these days. At formal gatherings where it is becoming increasingly common to acknowledge the first nations, here before us in Canada. the word will be bandied about. It sounds like “me-gwich”.

“It defines us as a people”

Mskwaankwad Rice is working to help the next generation of Ojibwe people in northern Ontario know and use many more words than just thank you. Rice describes himself as an intermediate speaker. He says he got some instruction in school in the language as a child, but not enough to be fluent the way he’d like to be. And the younger generation knows even less.

“It’s humbling and difficult”

So he, and some others with similar concerns, are holding an Ojibwe immersion summer camp. Several teachers and elders are coming in to help. In an interview on CBC radio, Rice described his own efforts to improve his knowleged and experience of the language as “humbling and difficult”, but he says it is imperative to make the effort because the language “defines us as a people”.

It is said it takes just two genertions to lose a language. Many of the elders remember when the language was spoken by everyone in the community. Many were also put through the hardship of residential school, where government policy enforced boarding school on the aboriginal children and prohibited them from speaking their native language, often violently.

The Anishinabe Spiritual Centre at Anderson Lake, near Espanola, Ontario is the location for the camp. It is for those committed to the experience, they must be at least 18, and along with the summer activities on the water, the everyday activities, such as going to a local store to pick up necessities will also be navigated in the their Ojibwe tounge.

The immersion camp is full with 12 students registered for the 10-day experience. Rice says the hardest part really “is making that step to speak because it’s really hard…. it’s humbling and it’s difficult”.

“It’s only very recently that we haven’t had our language… we need to do this in order for the language to survive and for us to maintain that sense of identity.”

Categories: Arts and Entertainment, Indigenous, Politics, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.


3 comments on “Ojibwe immersion camp keeps language alive
  1. Avatar Rie Casale says:


    How can i contact Mr. Rice? I would be interested in attending his camp.