Source: Indspire. Researcher: Linda Simon
Summary: The Mi’gmaq community of Listuguj is located in the southwestern part of the Gaspé Peninsula (Québec) bordering the province of New Brunswick. Listuguj has a population of 3,786, of which 2,066 Mi’gmaq people live in the community and 1,720 live off reserve. Just over half of the population is under the age of thirty; however, most Mi`gmaq speakers are over the age of fifty.
Formed in 1992, the Listuguj Education Directorate operates a Nursery to Grade 8 School. Students graduating from Alaqsite’w Gitpu School in Listuguj, Quebec then go on to Senior High School in Campbellton, New Brunswick. The school follows the curriculum of New Brunswick, and includes both French and Mi’gmaq Immersion programs in addition to the regular program of study.
The complete Nursery K4 – Grade 2 Mi’gmaq Immersion Program was developed in stages. A Kindergarten Mi’gmaq Immersion program was first implemented in 2002. When teaching resources were obtainable, and with parental support, a Grade 1 Mi’kmaq Immersion program was added in 2009, followed by Grade 2 in 2010. Finally, in 2011, with sufficient registrations, a Nursery K4 program was initiated to complete the Nursery to Grade 2 Immersion Program.
The success of this Immersion program is due to a core of people at Listuguj Education Directorate who share a long-term vision and commitment to immersion; capable personnel at the community, school, and classroom level; a plan for certification for teachers from the community; strategies for development of curriculum and teaching materials at the community level; and partnerships with other Mi`gmaq communities, universities and other bodies with expertise in developing immersion programs such as McGill and Concordia University Linguistic Departments.
The project reached the planned short term goal of students learning basic reading and writing skills in Mi’gmaq Language, and conversing in Mi’gmaq in the classroom by Grade 2. But, unpredictably, students who completed the full immersion program were seen to have greater confidence through improved self-identity, and student achievement.
The Grade 2 students were able to demonstrate greater language fluency and improved literacy rates compared to their peers as demonstrated on standardized tests such as the CAT 4 (Canadian Achievement Test), the province of New Brunswick Literacy tests, and the Ontario (OWA) Writing Assessment.
The results of the Immersion Program in Listuguj can be corroborated by similar findings in other Immersion programs in the Atlantic region which include fluency, identity, and student achievement.