Tsannie-Burseth honoured for Indigenous languages and culture advocacy
- Jeanelle Mandes | October 05, 2020
Rosalie Tsannie-Burseth’s 33-year career of promoting Indigenous languages and culture in education is being recognized with the University of Regina Professional Achievement Award.
“It’s quite humbling and I’m honoured to have received this,” she said. “It was exciting. I thought ‘really?’ and I was smiling away. It was a happy moment for me because it’s a prestigious award.”
Since 1987, Tsannie-Burseth has been an educator. Her area of expertise and where she considers herself an advocate is for Indigenous languages and culture. She was a leader in education for 30 years as a teacher and principal.
Tsannie-Burseth has served as the Director of Education at Hatchet Lake First Nation and was the Chief of her community of Wollaston Lake. For the past 11 years, she has served as the Associate Director with the Prince Albert Grand Council.
Her work ethic and love for education has caught the attention of other selection committees in the past too. She has received the Governor General’s Citizenship Award, the Awasis Award, the Role Model Award, Women of the Dawn Award, and the Lieutenant Governor’s Award.
Currently, Tsannie-Burseth is a full-time PhD student at the U of R where she is focused on language and culture with the elder’s guidance to build a curriculum that promotes language, culture and history. She expects to complete her doctorate within two years.
“Teaching and working with teachers in administration, with this whole reconciliation that is happening right now, we need to reconcile with our language and culture,” she said.
“We need to have that curriculum in our schools for language and culture, which is very important, especially when a community is struggling with identity. We need to take back our teachings.”
Her passion for teaching is something she truly holds dear to her heart.
“I’ve always loved teaching since day one. It’s such a reward that you can influence life of children,” she said. “I felt that when you build a trust with children, they can do absolutely anything. They will learn because of that positive relationship.”
She urges students to never give up on learning.
“Never lose sight of your goals and vision,” she said. “Do the best that you’re capable of doing. Keep an open mind to learn because there is so much knowledge.
“As a Dene person, I didn’t realize… that I learned so much of the Dene history right from contact to now. So education is a lifelong commitment.”
U of R officials hope to present Tsannie-Burseth with the award in person at a gala in February 2021.