Indigenous Language Revitalization: Role of a Bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist
Due to the risk of language extinction, immersion education is being implemented by Aboriginal communities in Canada and the United States as a language revitalization strategy. This paper describes one successful initiative, the Biidaaban Kinoomaagegamik Immersion Program (BKIP), started in 2006 by the community of Sagamok Anishnawbek (population: 1,400) situated on the north shore of Lake Huron in northern Ontario. The students are educated in Anishnaabemowin (Ojibwe), the primary language of instruction, through the day from senior kindergarten (SK) to Grade 3 with one hour allotted daily to English-language study. Aboriginal speech-language pathologists (SLPs), as speakers of an Indigenous language, can play a critical role in immersion education and language preservation. The role of the bilingual SLP in immersion programs is multifaceted. The varied aspects and responsibilities of this role are discussed.