Find out how Six Nations Polytechnic is adapting its programs to help Indigenous learners on their educational path during COVID-19.
I CHOSE Six Nations Polytechnic
Established in Ohsweken in 1993, Six Nations Polytechnic is committed to providing members of the Six Nations of the Grand River with lifelong learning in respects to the trades, continuing education and through the recovery and revitalisation of their languages and ceremonies.
Cayuga language student
I’m from the Seneca Cayuga Nation of Oklahoma. We lost our last first-language speaker around 1989, so we don’t have any fluent speakers in my community. Growing up, I never really heard the language other than in the longhouse. After high school, I went off and got a degree and was living in big cities, but I was feeling really detached from my community and my culture.
When I started looking into Indigenous studies programs, they were mostly at western universities and nothing really spoke to me. One night while doing research, I found Six Nations Polytechnic and saw that they offered a degree program in Ogwehoweh. I knew that was it.
I’m the first international student to come here, so we all worked together to figure out the visa process. I just completed my first semester and I’m just absolutely thrilled to be at an Indigenous institution because I feel like the instructors are from the community and understand the material that they’re teaching in a really personal and deep way.
Cayuga language instructor and student
For me, a huge part of who we are is our language. It’s the key to everything: our culture, our ceremonies, all our traditions and teachings. It was important for me to continue my Cayuga language journey for both myself and my son. He’s in a language program here in the elementary school. He started in kindergarten, now he’s in Grade 4 and his language level is getting higher. I started to realise that at some point he was going to surpass my level and I wouldn’t be able to teach him anymore. I wanted to improve my language proficiency so that we could continue to speak together and practice at home, and use the language when we attend ceremonies.
It’s hard to find language teachers and Six Nations Polytechnic is interested in growing our number of speakers by hiring their graduates. They asked me to teach one course, and then another. Teaching and learning Cayuga gives me that understanding about where we come from and our beliefs. It also strengthens the connection with my son. We’re both on this language learning journey together.
I have a lot of family in the trades, mainly iron workers, so I was always interested in the field. I’m a hands-on person. I had a lot of personal things happen in the years after high school. I was just trying to figure myself out and find what I liked to do. I’ve had a lot of different jobs, I’ve been a janitor, I’ve been a concessions person, worked at the casino, but I was looking for something that would help me out of minimum wage work. In 2017 I took a one-year course at Six Nations Polytechnic in Ohsweken and I got to learn my Mohawk language. It was an awesome experience, so when I saw the Facebook posting for the welding course at the Brantford campus I knew how the school worked and felt comfortable applying.
They helped me out a lot when I was struggling, with tuition and a gas card every week. My instructor has been awesome. He really prides himself on what he does. He makes everything really fun but is still serious about his job. I’m really looking forward to my apprenticeship, and then moving on to my get my Red Seal.
Location & Contact
Six Nations Polytechnic has two campuses. One located in Six Nations and one located in Brantford.
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