2015 Compendium of Poems: Found Poetry

These poems represent the personal, professional, and passionate thoughts of a group of preservice teachers who reflected on the state of Indigenous language loss in their homes, communities, and schools. They ring clearly of a call to action and also speak to the profound loss of languages.

This “Found Poem” activity was part of an online course, EDEL 412: Teaching Language Arts in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Contexts, where the students became informed about the local and timely issue of Indigenous language and cultural identity. The abbreviated list of authors is the following:

Anderson, C.; Anderson, D.; Anderson, T.; Auger, C.; Auger, K.; Batchelor, D.; Batsone, A.; Bensch, C.; Bonnet, C.; Cardinal, C.; Cardinal, C.; Cardinal, L.; Cardinal, M.; Cardinal, N.; Cardinal, P.; Christensen, N.; D'Or, M.; Davies, C.; Derkoch, B.; Devlieger, B.; Dunleavy, E.; Elter, M.; Freeman, J.; Gambler, S.; Gauchier, T.; Genoway, J.; Gill, C.; Gladue, D.; Gullion, R.; Hamelin, Y.; Houle, L.; Houle, S.; Kamieniecki, C.; Kemp, R.; Kushner, K.; Kuyek, B.; Laderoute, K.; Larson, R.; MacKenzie, T.; Oar, R.; Paul, A.; Pawliw, C.; Pelletier, J.; Porisky, C.; Sound, J.; Stone, L.; Thunder, L.; Timinsky, S.; Vadnais, T.; Yellowknee, J.; & Young, R.

Kids First

Kids First, the report from the NCET describes a process for engaging communities in Northland School Division No.61. In addition to the Community Engagement Framework, Kids First sets out a vision for excellence in Aboriginal education and responds to five priority recommendations contained in the Northland School Division Inquiry Team Report.

We believe this report sets the stage for excellence in Aboriginal education. With the support of our communities, we believe Northland School Division No. 61 can become a showcase for Aboriginal education, both at home in Canada and in the world.

Our Way is a Valid Way

Our Way Is a Valid Way: Professional Educator Resource is a professional development tool to help educators deepn their understanding of First Nations, Metis and Inuit perspectives, histories, cultures, traditional practices, protocols, and languages.

The purpose of this resource is to provide foundational knowledge for beginning educators who wish to develop an understanding of FNMI perspectives and cultures. The pacakge may also provide experienced teachers with a deeper understanding of their local context and FNMI community.

Supporting Every Student Learning Series

The Supporting Every Student Learning Series is creating opportunities for jurisdiction and school leaders to explore the importance of welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments to support student success. The project provides evidence and ideas through recorded "TedTalk" style presentations and conversation guides. Topics relate to evidence-based strategies in supporting successful for all students.

2016 Compendium of Poems: Found Poetry.

These poems represent the personal, professional, and passionate thoughts of a group of preservice teachers who reflected on the state of Indigenous language loss in their homes, communities, and schools. They ring clearly of a call to action and also speak to the profound loss of languages.

This “Found Poem” activity was part of an online course, EDEL 412: Teaching Language Arts in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Contexts, where the students became informed about the local and timely issue of Indigenous language and cultural identity. The students watched several language-preservation videos, read articles by many authors on the topic (see references at the end of the compendium), and worked to frame and articulate the levels of personal, spiritual, historical, and educational repercussions where language and identity converge. The students then compiled this gleaned information into their own personal ‘found poem’: a collection or collage of significant phrases, words, and images from the readings and videos that resonated with them. As part of this online class, they worked through their poems in a writer’s workshop and read and gave feedback to each other on their poems in a small online discussion forum. They received feedback from their instructor and the teaching assistant and then revised their poems to send to a small new online group of their classmates for further input. The authors then decided on the final form and content of their individual poems and voluntarily submitted them for this compendium.

From our perspectives, we believe that these poems work very well to distil the essence of both Indigenous identity and language and the classroom-teacher-to-be impressions of that, as seen through the eyes of this group of northern preservice teachers, into rather moving and powerful expressions that can be read from several levels. We hope that in reading these poems, you find a space where they resonate with you as well.

Part of the professional side of teaching practice requires us all as teachers to be aware of and sensitive to the culture of our students. This is an especially vital task in the area of language and literacy, particularly with young learners. In these formative years, the use of and access to a variety of languages, both at school and in the community, have been evidenced as very strong predictors of cognitive and academic achievement. However, across the world and in our country, the languages and cultures indigenous to this geography have lost their vitality through oppression, assimilation, and subsequent marginalization by the powerful political, religious, and education forces and the effects of Canadian colonialism. In turn, and especially in communities such as those in which these preservice teachers will soon be working, substantial language shift has occurred over the past decades as extended families gradually lose access to their Indigenous heritage through both choice and lack of exposure and, consequently, to the roots of their cultural identity. These found poems speak to that history and personal loss as they demonstrate a voice for a renewed awareness and effort for language revitalization.

Related Sites

Tansi! Nehiyawetan

Invites children to learn Cree with Kai, Jayla, and Auntie Josephine through kinetic games, absorbing stories, compelling songs and dynamic adventures.

Online Cree Dictionary

A web based interactive First Nations language portal with dictionary and curriculum based resources to further the development for Cree language in Canada.

nehiyawasinahikanisa (Little Cree Books)

A collection of Little Cree Books, the first of what will become a large collection of online books designed for early Cree readers.

Indigenous Language Resources

Articles about ILE Programs

Blair, H., Tyne, J., & Okemaw, V. (2012). Ititwewiniwak: Language warriors: The young women’s circle of leadership. The Canadian Journal of Native Education. 34(1).

Blair, H., & Fredeen, S. (2009). Putting knowledge into practice. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 32(2), 62-77.

Steinhauer, D., King, A. L., & Blair, H. (2008). How Elders inform Indigenous language instruction. Report for Alberta Education, Edmonton, AB.

Blair, H., Paskemin, D., & McGilvery, F. (2006). Intergenerational language transmission at the Canadian Indigenous Languages & Literacy Development Institute Cree Immersion day camp. In J. Roy (Ed.), Proceedings: AWASIS 2006 Journal (pp. 23-26). Saskatoon, SK: Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation.

Blair, H., & Laboucan, B. (2004). Ensuring language learning opportunities for Indigenous children. Report for Alberta Education, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB.

Blair, H., Paskemin, D., & Laderoute, B. (2003). Preparing indigenous language advocates, teachers, and researchers in western Canada. In J. Reyhner, O. V. Trujillo, R. L. Carrasco, & L. Lockard (Eds.), Nurturing Native languages (pp. 93-104). Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University.


Indigenous Language Revitalization Articles

Gardner, Stelómethet Ethel B. The Four R's of Leadership in Indigenous Language Revitalization. In C. Kenny (Ed.), Living Indigenous Leadership: Native Narratives on Building Strong Communities (1st Ed). Vancouver, BC: UBC Press.

Leonard, Wesley Y; Gardner, Stelómethet Ethel B. Eds. (2009). Language is Life: Proceedings of the 11th Annual Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Conference, June 2004, 115 pp.

Gardner, Stelómethet Ethel B. (2008). Tset Híikwstexw Te Skwélteltset, We Hold Our Language High: The Meaning of Halq’eméylem Language Renewal in the Everyday Lives of Stó:lō  People.  Saarbrüken, Germany: VDM Verlag Dr Müller, 324 pp.

Gardner, Stelómethet Ethel B. (2008). Iyómex, Éyqwlha, Yú:wqwlha, Language as Musical Space: An Aesthetic Approach to Research. In Voices Journal, A World Forum for Music Therapy. Vol. 8, No.3. (November)

Gardner, Stelómethet Ethel B. (2008).  Action Research on Language Planning for Anishinaabemowin Revitalization. Accepted for Peer-reviewed Conference Proceedings for the World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Education (WIPCE), Melbourne, Australia December 7-11.

Blair, H., & Laboucan B. J. (2006). The Alberta Language Initiative and the implications for Indigenous languages. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 29(2), 206-214. 

Gardner, Stelómethet Ethel B. (2005).  Designing an e-Master-Apprentice Pedagogy Research for Critically Endangered Languages.  Unpublished Paper available from the author. 

Gardner, Ethel B. (2004).  “Without Our Language, We Will Cease to Exist as a Unique People” Accepted for inclusion in the Proceedings of the 11th Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Conference, Language is Life. Eds. Wesley Y. Leonard & Ethel B Gardner.  Hosted by the University of California at Berkely.

Gardner, Ethel B. (2004).  T’it’elemettset te st’ilems the skw’okw’qa:q: Singing the Robin’s song.  Proceedings of the 39th International Conference on Salish and Neighboring Languages.  August 11-13.  Vancouver:  UBC, pp. 167-181.

Gardner, Ethel B. (2000). Where There are Always Wild Strawberries.  Canadian Journal of Native Education.  Vol. 24.  No.1, pp. 7-13.

Blair, H. (1997). Indian languages policy and planning in Saskatchewan: A research report. Report for Government of Saskatchewan, Regina, SK

Blair, H. (1997). Language as resource: Can Aboriginal languages in Western Canada be preserved? In A. Richardson (Ed.), Proceedings of the Canadian Childhood Past, Present, and Future National Conference (pp. 220‑225). Edmonton, AB: Kanata Learning.

Blair, H., & Fredeen, S. (1995). Do not go gently into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light [The case of obsolescing languages in Canada]. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 26(1), 1‑23.

Ahenakew, F., Blair, H., & Fredeen, S. (1994). Aboriginal language policy and planning in Canada. Submission to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Government of Canada, Ottawa, ON.

Course work

Blair, H. & Filipek J. (2016). Indigenous Languages Retention & Revitalization. Compendium of Poems: Found Poetry. Aboriginal Teacher Education Program. University of Alberta, 2016 Graduating Class.

Blair, H., Filipek J. & Zeidler, M. (2013). Indigenous Languages Retention & Revitalization. Compendium of Poems: Found Poetry. Aboriginal Teacher Education Program. University of Alberta, 2013 Graduating Class.


Faculty of Elementary Education, University of Alberta

Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP)

Indigenous Language Institute

American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI)

The Gift of Language and Culture Centre

First Voices

Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium

Indigenous Language REsources at NAU

News Media articles

Byles, I., & Cairney, R. (2007, July 26). CILLDI making Aboriginal languages a priority. Campus ExpressNews [University of Alberta].

Ford, D. (2007, May 15). Institute earns Aboriginal languages award. Campus ExpressNews [University of Alberta].

Ford, D. (2007, February 16). Cree version of O Canada: A pivotal moment in Canadian history. Campus ExpressNews [University of Alberta].

Crawshaw, C. (2006, July 12). U of A Institute holding on to the languages of Canada’s First Nations. Campus ExpressNews [University of Alberta].

Crawshaw, C. (2005, July). Program passes on Indigenous languages to young learners. Campus ExpressNews [University of Alberta].

Betkowski, B. (2004, July). Elder brings Aboriginal tradition to campus. Campus ExpressNews [University of Alberta].

Crawshaw, C. (2004, July). Institute assists Aboriginal “language activists.” Campus ExpressNews [University of Alberta].