Laurentian University presented Leona Nahwegahbow with the Native Education Person of Distinction Award on June 21, which is National Aboriginal Day.
Nahwegahbow is an advocate for indigenous language training and a former chair of the Laurentian University Native Education Council.
She is also the former Chief of Whitefish River First Nation, and currently serves on the band council with responsibility for Language and Elders.
She is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, has been elder-in-residence at Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute at M’Chigeeng on Manitoulin Island, and has also worked with the Shawanosowe School, an Aboriginal elementary school at Whitefish River First Nation.
She currently participates in the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation’s “Story-telling in the Language” Program, and teaches a class as a “keeper of the language.”
“Leona Nahwegahbow has helped to guide and to shape our approach to indigenous learning, here at Laurentian and beyond,” Laurentian University president Dominic Giroux said, in a press release.
“She has been a model for all who work for the advancement of aboriginal languages and learning.”
Roxanne Manitowabi, chair of Laurentian University's Native Education Council, said Nahwegabow has done a lot to keep the Ojibwe language vital.
“Her dedication to living our language and culture every day, and her passion to share these gifts with our children, have helped us all to extend our reach in Aboriginal education.”
There was a special celebratory aspect to the 2012 ceremonies for National Aboriginal Day at Laurentian, as the university’s School of Native Human Services is 25 years old this year.
The Native Human Services program, launched in 1988, is one of only two Bachelor of Native Social Work programs in the country, and has graduated a total of 228 people who have acheived their bachelor of social work through on-campus or distance studies.
“Our faculty and our programs have put Laurentian in a leadership role in indigenous learning,” Sheila Côté-Meek, associate vice-president for indigenous programs, said in the press release.
“We’re proud of what we’ve achieved, and we’re excited about our plans to develop a master’s program in Indigenous Relations.”
Posted by Arron Pickard