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Kehkimin Wolastoqey Language School preserving language and culture for next generation

Kehkimin in Wolastoqey means "teach me," and it's the name of a language immersion school in Fredericton, N.B. (Wolastokuk).

Tuesday the school held a naming ceremony where they receive traditional Wolastoqey names.

"It kind of reflects on the truth and reconciliations calls to action,” said Ron Tremblay, Wolastoqey Traditional Grand Chief.

“One of them is giving back our names of our children.”

Lisa Perley-Dutcher, director of Kehkimin Language Immersion School, says they are working to undo the damage that was done by colonization.

“A big part of that was the taking of our language and our culture,” she said.

Parents Marissa Polchies-Kennedy and Rachel Kish say they are excited to see their kids have opportunities they didn't.

"I didn't grow up with a lot of culture around me, so I like that we are both able to learn a little bit at the same time,” said Polchies-Kennedy.

"We don't live on reserve or anything like that, so it's nice for Benson to get the chance to have that community connection and connection to his culture," Kish.

As the children grow, the hope is that the language will live on with them.

"It's been fantastic. He's been coming home and he knows songs and speaks the language a little bit,” said parent Chelsea Harris-Carr.

"Our entire identity revolves around not only our language, but our ceremonies and our cultural practices and Kehkimin is able to offer that to our children as well," parent Abby Brooks said.

These pre-kindergarten children get to learn, play and experience their culture outside near Fredericton's Kilarney Lake.

"Children are prime at this age to learn; they take it in so easily, their minds are like a sponge,” Perley-Dutcher said.

While many fluent Wolastoqey speakers are aging, Kehkimin is inspiring the next generation.

"What really warmed my heart one day was when a great grandfather said to me 'Never in my life did I think my great granddaughter would be speaking our language,'” Perley-Dutcher said.

"We want to do our best in reviving our languages and our ceremony, and this is only a small seed that we're planting,” Tremblay said. Top Stories

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