By Len Chan The Afro News Calgary :SAHLA (The Southern Alberta Heritage Language Association) Symposium took place Oct. 23rd at the Greenwood Hotel in Calgary. The theme of the symposium was “Growing Together in Language Education”. SAHLA was also celebrating its 25th Anniversary. Language educators from Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg and Quebec participated. Special Guests included Hon. Lindsay Blackett, Minister of Culture & Community Spirit and Senator Mobina Jaffer from British Columbia.
The Symposium focused on the need to enhance language education especially in the Global Market where Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America are growth areas. President of SAHLA, Michael Embaie is originally from Eritrea. The Symposium opened with students from a number of Language Schools who spoke on how knowing their root language or a second and third language has shaped who they are.
Many children of immigrants who arrived in Canada at an early age or were born here said due to school, life outside of the home and speaking English with their friends, they have forgotten their own cultural language. With the advent of Language Schools, students are now re-inventing who they are. Attending their cultural Language Schools allows them to meet friends with the same goals and they realize that knowing their root language makes them more of a complete person. Others spoke about how it was a joy to visit their root country and to be able to converse with relatives and others they met.
SAHLA partners with the University of Calgary and the many Cultural Language Schools to offer professional development programs through panels and discussions. Students, besides receiving credits and learning a second or third language, are able to create greater career opportunities as well. Bow Valley College ESL Instructors, Carol Costa and Rita Anderson discussed ways that language educators could improve their teaching skills and translation.
Senator Mobina Jaffer was born in Uganda and educated in England and Canada (Simon Fraser University) and is the first East Indian woman to practice Law in British Columbia. She is also the first African-born Senator and the first Senator of South Asian heritage. She has been on numerous committees and is currently on the Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages. Also attending were Bukola and Tolo from the Yoruba Foundation who spoke on the need to maintain one’s root language.