Author Archives: strauchc

Wâhkôhtowin (Kinship)

Tansi classmates,

This week I have been working on expanding my cree vocabulary. If you recall from my last post, my goal for the week was to learn question words and expand my vocabulary. I decided to start with vocabulary before learning questions words because I felt that I needed to have the vocabulary before I could formulate questions.

I started to search for the words to describe family. This turned into a whole new discovery. In my mind, I was going to create a “family tree” with all the words for different family members. Instead, I have had a cultural learning experience.

To give you a glimpse, check out this screen cast:

Needless to say, I realize that the family tree is much more in depth than just translating simple words from English. The most important concept to understand is the concept of wâhkôhtowin or kinship. Family is a central part of Cree culture and family values are central and embedded into the language. Chelsea Vowel (the author of this blog) described kinship as follows:

“I was taught to think of my mother’s sisters as my mothers.  Not my birth mothers, but as women who definitely held that maternal role in my life.  There was a closer bond to them than there were to my mother’s brothers.  If you need to relate it to English, just think of it as ‘the women in your life who are related to you in a way that gives them a maternal role’.  Those women are my mother’s sisters and my father’s brother’s wives.”

Family includes both extended and immediate family and extended family plays a very important role in raising children. By studying the terms used for extended family members, you will see how important they are. This page gives a great overview of the meanings of the extended family words. Here is a screenshot:


This particular page is describing the meaning behind the words for cousins. However, the meaning of the word is actually the same word as sibling. Chelsea Vowel describes this further on her blog. She says: “the terms are the same as they are for our siblings, because in fact, these cousins are like our siblings.  They are the children of our mothers and fathers.  They are closer to us than the anglo understanding of ‘cousin’.  Though I did not grow up in a super traditional household, this aspect of my upbringing certainly is true.  My mother’s sister’s children were as close (and annoying) to me as my own brothers, while there has always been a distance between me and my mother’s brother’s children.”

To summarize, I learned the following about Cree terms for family:

  1. Similar to the introductions, the family words have root words. From these root words the cree speaker places the root words in grammatical structures called paradigms.
  2. Gender and number are important because the Cree language is spoken in number-gender agreement

The root words are as follows:

Ōhtāwīyimāw for father

Okawiyimaw for mother

Ostesimaw for brother

Omisimaw for sister

From these root words, you add the prefix to form a paradigm. Chelsea Vowel explains them well in her blog. This screenshot explains the prefixes as follows:


This video provides a great lesson on the words for family members using the “my” prefix. In addition, it provides an example of the pronunciation.

If I were to take all of those words beginning with “ni” and replaced the prefix with “ki” then I would be saying “your” as opposed to “my.” What I have yet to learn is why the root word is not just a formation of the root plus the prefix. For example, is the root for Okawiyimaw mother and “ni” is the prefix but the word for mother is nikâwiy and not nikâwiyimaw. This is something I have to figure out. I do, however know that the “O” that is at the front of the word for mother is the general third person prefix. If any Cree speakers read my blog, could you please clarify this for me?

I am happy that I have learned a lot more about the words for family and the meaning of Wâhkôtowin. I feel that I have learned more about the language but also about culture, which was a personal goal.

What are you thoughts on the words for family in Cree? If you speak another language, what are the common practices for family names in your language? What did you learn from my learning? If any Cree speakers read this, can you tell me more or correct any misunderstandings I may have?

I did not make it to question words this week but my goal will be to work more on vocabulary including verbs, numbers and other basic foundational pieces.

Thanks for reading!


Taking Control of my Digital Identity

Tansi classmates,

This blog post is about my digital identity. Specifically, I am going to address three topics. The first topic will be about my path towards creating a digital identity. The second topic will be about why I decided to have an online presence and digital identity and the third topic will be about my strategies to maintain and stay up to date on my digital identity.

This section will be about my social media and digital evolution. I began to learn about social media when I was still in elementary school. I remember the beginning of online chats with ICQ. Remember this?

That sounds brings back so many memories! Skip forward to when I was an undergraduate student. There was MySpace, Hi5 and then Facebook. The rest is history…


Image via:


Image via:

There was, however, a time that I really avoided getting on board with all the social media trends. For example, when I heard about SnapChat I really did not want to try it out. I found the constantly changing technologies to be too much to keep up with.  Another example is Twitter. I had joined Twitter a long time ago and then my page was hacked and someone was retweeting pornographic images from my twitter feed.


are-you-kidding-meThankfully a friend of mine texted me and let me know that there was some suspicious activity on my account. The problem is, that if you are not the original author of that tweet and you retweet it, then it cannot be deleted from your twitter profile (as far as I understand but if you know how please let me know!). At this point, I felt overwhelmed with Twitter and I just gave up. It was this Twitter experience along with working in the area of vocational training that brought me to a point when I realized that I needed to make a conscious effort to create a positive digital identity.

Now, looking at the second topic of the reason that I have decided to make sure I have an online presence. This article that we read in the first week of class gives voice to the reason that I ensure I have an online presence. A student in the article put it best. He said: “It is better to have an online presence,” added Daniel Mobilio, 14. “If people search you on the Internet, you don’t want them to get a bad impression of you.” This is particularly important because I work in the field of vocational training. I have to make sure that my students are aware of the fact that “it’s a few more years until the paper resumé will be dead.”

Many of my adult students like to connect once our class time together is over. I also like to keep in touch with them to get updates on settlement. I use LinkedIn as a way to stay connected with former students and to model a positive digital presence. Roberta mentioned how “technology must be relevant and interactive to the coursework.” I really liked this point and I would say this is one of the main reasons that I decided to get online and get building an online presence. I know that I need to understand what is relevant and integrate interactive forms of learning, and be able to provide the best coaching and mentoring possible. This means, being ahead of the trends in my field.

Going forward, to maintain my digital identity I plan to use my personal learning networks on Twitter to stay abreast of the changes in social media, specifically as it relates to vocational training. LinkedIn is a fantastic tool and I learn a lot about maintaining a digital presence on that network as well. Through LinkedIn I have also created various mentoring/coaching relationships with other practitioners.

What strategies do you have for keeping abreast of the changing technologies? Do you feel overwhelmed by the task of maintaining a positive digital identity?

Thanks for reading.



Learn Cree: The Foundations

Hello classmates,

As you have seen in my previous post and on my twitter feed, I have decided to learn Cree for my ECI 831 Learning Project. This post is going to be about my learning process so far. I am going to write about the approach that I have decided to take, the things that I have learned, and what steps I plan to take to further my learning.

First of all, I am going to write about the approach that I have decided to take to learn Cree. As mentioned, I have acquired a second language before (Spanish). I began learning Spanish in high school and then continued studying in University. It was an academic approach to learning the language. By that, I mean that I studied in a textbook before I had an immersion experience. I found it helpful to have a base of the language before I engaged in an immersion experience. As this is the Second Language Acquisition (SLA) approach that I am most familiar with, I decided to take the same approach to learning Cree.

Before the actual language acquisition process began I wanted to become more familiar with the regions and origins of the Cree language. Like with many other languages, Cree has different regional dialects.

Cree Dialects

I took this screenshot from

 I like it because it provides a visual for the different dialects of Cree that are spoken different regions. My learning will focus on Plans Cree as that is the most prominent in our region in Saskatchewan.



After becoming more familiar with regional dialects, I began working on familiarizing myself with the letters and the sounds. The Online Cree Dictionary is one of the first places that I started to look for learning resources.

Check out my screencast for more information about The Online Cree dictionary here:

Once I became more familiar with some of the sounds and the vowels I began to look for resources on basic Cree words such as greetings and introductions. I met Bill Cook on Twitter. He is a Cree instructor at FNU.


Image via:

He sent me a link to his Quizlet.

This was the first time that I had the opportunity to interact with this technology. I must say that I enjoyed using the tool as a learner and I could see it being a great tool, in particular for learning a language. The Quizlet that I began with was the one for introductions.

I loved that I had the chance to hear the words. I know that pronunciation is going to be one of my biggest challenges so it was good to have the model.

So far, I have acquired the vocabulary for the following basic greetings and introductions:

Hello: Tānsi

My name is Colleen: Colleen nisthihkāson (Ni means “Me” and thihkāson means “to be called”)

What is your name?: tānsi kisithihkāson(Ki means “you” and then the root of thihkāson meaning “to be called”)

I know that this doesn’t seem like a lot but it has taken me time to get adjusted to the sounds, the roots of the words and the subject pronouns to be able to understand the words.

This YouTube video was where I learned the subject pronouns:


My goals for my next step in the learning process is to move to asking questions such as “what is your name?” and “where are you from?” I will have to figure out how the who/what/when/where/why questions are formed and then try to understand the structure of the sentences.

Also, I would like to expand my vocabulary. I am going to look for common words such as household items and family members to add to my vocabulary.

Wish me luck!



Intergenerational Learning and the Importance of Connection

Hello classmates,

This blog is going to address my concerns about working as an adult educator in the social media age and how I balance that with the moral imperative to educate adults to succeed in a rapidly changing world.

Specifically, I am going to discuss three areas that concern me as an adult educator:  the first is the marginalization of the elderly in Canada, the second is the role that social media can play in engaging elderly people and the third is the importance of intergenerational learning.

Adult education is founded on a focus on citizenship for a democratic society and many times the adult learner is marginalized based on their age, literacy or language amongst many other factors (Watkins & Marsick, 2014). In Saskatchewan, we have an aging population and our aging population is also rural. Mott (2008), discusses the complex, dynamic and varied needs of the older adult learners in rural areas. This presents a unique challenge to adult educators in Saskatchewan.

It is important to use social media to engage the elderly. With an aging population in rural areas I believe that it is important for adult educators to teach social media in order to engage older learning and allow them to have a means to connect. I found a video on YouTube about a 16 year old in Florida who set up a “tech school” to teach social media to senior citizens.

The seniors were able to see their children and grandchildren on facebook, make facebook live videos, and discover how technology can connect them. To me, the most important factor is that the adult learners are engaging in continuous learning that also allows them to stay connected. Connectedness helps combat loneliness and provides access to limitless resources for continuous learning.

Manuel Lima’s discussion of The Power of Network’s talks about the importance of unity, interconnectivity and networks. Society is filled with interconnectivity and it is imperative that adult educators capitalize on the power of social media to connect those (such as the elderly) who may be isolated and unconnected.

Based on the importance of interconnectivity and interaction it is crucial for adult educators to prioritize intergenearational learning. I posted an article on my twitter feed this week about intergenerational learning. The article focuses on social interaction and participation of older people. If older people are engaged, they have a space to share and learn which is mutually beneficial for the younger generation and for the older generation.

Do elderly people in your lives use social media? Has it been helpful to them? Do any of the k-12 teachers do any intergenerational learning initiatives? What do the nurse educators think about intergenerational learning? Have you seen elderly patients engaged and learning on social media?


Authenticity and Employment

Hello classmates,

As you may know already, our class has been invited to write about our thoughts on the implications of public sharing.

In this blog post, I am going to talk about two things: what the challenges of authenticity are with guarded online sharing and how public sharing relates to employment.

Let me start with my first point, the challenges of authenticity with guarded online sharing. One of the areas that I struggle with is the ability to be authentic in the online environment. Christina talked about our duty to educate and shared an image that got me thinking…  

think before you post

When we are posting online, we should be thinking “Am I showing a bad side of myself?” It is a critical question to ask ourselves considering how we are posting to the world wide web where nothing is forgotten. Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt’s blog post “Digital Identity in a World that Never Forgets” refers to the internet as having “the memory of an elephant.” We cannot undo the thoughts that we have put out onto the web. 

When nobody wants to show a bad side of themselves to the world then how authentic can we possibly be? Obviously we all have areas that we want to improve, but what are the implications of a new digital standard of being? In my opinion, we have to consider that in online sharing, we should all be striving to create a POSITIVE online identity. We must encourage strong censorship of what we post online, but we also have to have conversations around the standards that may be created as a result of only projecting positive images of ourselves to the world. 

The second thing I want to discuss, in addition to authenticity, is what does open sharing mean in the context of employment?

Since I teach in an employment program, I think about how one may be working in a particular position that may allow them to be outspoken about political issues and current events at the local, national or global level. However, if one loses their job or one decides that they want to move on to a new organization then their online political opinions could quickly diminish their chances of getting a job if they do not align with the political views of the person in charge of hiring.

 Alec and Katia’s blog post encourages online users to “use the grandma rule”.  We have to ask ourselves if it is something that we would want our boss and/or our future employer to see. Although it may be permissible with our current employer, we also have to think about what it may mean to future employers. I know that I avoid making any political posts all together, but, is this the answer? 

So now, I would like to ask you a few questions. How do you all see authenticity in the digital world? Considering that we have to tread very lightly with what we post, do you feel pressure to perform or act in a certain way because of the pressures of social media? Do you talk to your students about authenticity?

In terms of employment, do you feel comfortable making political posts? How much do you censor your posts?

Thanks for reading.


Cree ᐧ ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐃᐧ nêhiyawi

Hello classmates,

In this blog post, I am going to talk about my initial thoughts about my major digital project, the decision that I have made, and the reason that I have chosen the learning project that I have chosen.

Initially, I had planned to implement a Google Classroom; however, the program that I am working on is going through a lot of changes as it is a new program. I did not want to begin a project until I had a better idea of what the next couple of months will look like. To avoid any unnecessary hang ups, I moved on to a learning project.

As many of you may have seen on my twitter account , I have decided I would like to begin to learn Cree as my major learning project. How did I come to this decision you might ask? Let me explain.

I have had the fortune of learning a second language, and I discovered the interconnectivity of  language and culture. One can only truly understand concepts and emotions that one has words to comprehend.

I hope that in beginning to study Cree, I will learn and develop a depth of understanding not only of language but also of culture.

In addition, I recognize the importance of keeping traditional languages alive. Cree  cannot not be learnt in any other part of the world but in Saskatchewan. It is a language that is unique to the land that I grew up on. I strongly believe that the places that one grows up on shape and form a central part of their identities. I want to be develop, through language, an understanding of the words that have formed the history and culture of the lands that I live on.

Please share any resources that you may have. I have discovered some apps such as this one called My Cree. It also looks like the Athabasca Tribal Council has recently launched an app called ATC Cree. I am excited about using the apps and undertaking this journey.

Has anyone in the class learned Cree? Or, does anyone speak Cree? I am going to need all the help that I can get! 

All the best,