Georgian gold recipient of excellence award for Indigenous language preservation

Georgian received gold in the category of Indigenous Education at the 2023 World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics’ Awards of Excellence for efforts to ensure preservation of the Anishnaabemowin language. The award was presented at a special ceremony part of the World Congress held today in Montreal.  

The Anishnaabemowin language was at a critical state in 2013 and Georgian understood that without intervention, the language would become extinct in our region within the next decade. The college took swift action to develop the Anishnaabemowin and Program Development diploma to ensure its survival.  

As a postsecondary institution committed to serving our communities, we felt a deep responsibility to take a leadership role and to collaborate with Indigenous partners to help ensure the language wasn’t lost. Georgian students and graduates are now language champions developing and implementing sustainable programs in communities and organizations, and guiding us through issues affecting revitalization and preservation of both Indigenous language and culture.

– Greg McGregor, Manager, Indigenous Services and Access Programs

Over the last decade, the college’s leadership around preserving language has grown. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgian introduced virtual reality (VR) as an innovative way to take language learning to the next level while fostering a sense of connection at a time when many students and faculty were isolated.  

Group on stage receiving gold Indigenous Education Award
Left to right: Denise Amyot, President and CEO, Colleges and Institutes Canada; Kevin Weaver, President and CEO, Georgian College; Rob Theriault, Immersive Technology Manager, Georgian College; Michele O’Brien, Co-op Experience Consultant and Program Coordinator, Indigenous Studies, Georgian College; Angeline King, Faculty, Georgian College; Greg McGregor, Manager, Indigenous Services and Access Programs, Georgian College; Mary-Anne Willsey, Vice Chair, Board of Governors, Georgian College; and Dr. Jefferson Manhães de Azevedo, Deputy Chair Americas, Board of Directors, World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics.

The Anishnaabemowin and Program Development diploma includes four immersive Indigenous language VR worlds that explore language in the home, community, workplace and natural world. Each world provides students with fun and engaging ways to learn and practise their comprehension and speaking skills, and spaces to gather and socialize. The worlds also include Indigenous elements, like the Medicine Wheel, so students can learn about their significance and other key Indigenous teachings.  

Georgian is one of the world leaders in the exploration and integration of virtual reality in its programs and one of only a few postsecondary institutions offering Indigenous language education in a VR environment. Colleagues at postsecondary institutions and K-12 schools across Canada and the world are looking to Georgian as an example of excellence and seeking out our expertise. It’s very exciting and speaks to the passion and commitment of Team Georgian.

– Kevn Weaver, President and CEO, Georgian

All of Georgian’s VR assets for language learning will eventually become open source so they’re available to other institutions for use in their Indigenous programs.  

The team that developed the VR worlds received the 2022 Minister of Colleges and Universities’ Award of Excellence in the category of Future Proofing students. Georgian also received the 2022 Colleges and Institutes Canada Indigenous Education Excellence Award.  

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