By Roman Hayter


A Nakoda language teacher in the Carry the Kettle Nakoda Nation has devised a new approach to educating her students.

Theresa O’Watch, a teacher at the Nakoda Oyade Education Centre uses a puppet to teach her students Nakoda.

“Language is my passion; I am not a fluent speaker, but I am learning every day as we go along. I don’t believe that we have a lot of Assiniboine fluent speakers, though we do have a few,” said O’Watch. “We’re trying to save our endangered language; we are working very diligently to save our language; we’re trying to make it as fun as possible. I believe that if we make the language fun, our students will learn it, so we play a lot of games and we just like to have fun with the kids and talk and make sure they’re hearing the articulation of the language.”

She first came up with the idea to use her puppet Kushi as a method of teaching once she saw the fun students were having with language-based games in the classroom. “For me, language was really hard to learn, even though I was born into a language-speaking family. It was hard to reawaken that language within me, and I found that when I taught the children, the games were really fun, so then I started making a doll,” explained O’Watch. “I had worked with a gentleman from the Tribal Council at this point in time, so I took the doll to him and showed him, and I was afraid to use the doll because I could not get the eyes right and they just looked scary, so he gave me this puppet.”

O’Watch now teaches elementary students the Nakoda language three days a week.

(Photo courtesy of Facebook.)