UCalgary team submits Cree language SSHRC application to challenge colonial worldview

A team from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Social Work have challenged the colonial worldview by submitting a SSHRC funding application entirely in nêhiyawewin (Cree language). The proposal, which was submitted entirely in the Cree language as a way to honour nêhiyaw language holders and knowledge-keepers, had a goal of being evaluated in the same way as other proposals in English and French. “Language creates reality. There are multiple realities, and these realities are created through language,” said UCalgary Associate Professor and Elder’s spiritual helper Ralph Bodor. “Cree is a language of verbs. English is a language of nouns. When you’re trying to change a verb into a noun, it’s impossible.” The proposal was rejected by SSHRC without appeal because of claims of challenges with ensuring quality peer review. “I don’t think they even recognized that there’s another world view aside from the Western world view,” said team leader and Elder Leona Makoki. “Had they gone through the whole process, it would have been a learning opportunity and an opportunity to do some relationship building.”

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