Dr. Anne Anderson, well known linguist, teacher and writer of the Cree language, has received a Heritage Language Development Award from the Alberta Multiculturalism Commission.
"I am very happy about this most recent award. I want the world to know we, the Metis people, can accomplish great things," she says.
Commission chairman Steve Zarusky presented the Metis elder with the award at a reception last month in Calgary. "The award was given in recognition of her long service to the development of the Cree language," says commission program consultant Caroline Pinto.
Nominations are invited annually across the province and the submissions are reviewed by a selection committee.
"Dr. Anne was also recognized for taking the initiative for leadership in preserving the Cree language and for developing her unique teaching methods," Pinto says.
In 1978 Dr. Anderson was awarded an honorary doctorate for her contribution for preservation of Cree. She established the Dr. Anne Anderson Native Heritage and Cultural Centre in 1982 to provide Cree language instruction and promote Native culture.
Many people have benefited from her classes, including social workers, federal government workers, Native people, childcare workers, teachers and nurses. Her centre, located on 124th Street in Edmonton, is a busy place. Visitors include Cree-language students, school children on tour, users of her library and customers buying crafts and publications.
Recently Anderson published, after two years of research, The First Metis - A New Nation, which chronicles the history of Metis families in Alberta. "It belongs in every school library in Alberta," says Anderson, adding that the centre offers a special price to school boards.
Anderson has 92 copyrights on her Cree language books, history lessons, tapes and coloring books on Native herbs and remedies. "And the calls just keep coming in for Cree lessons," she says. The current session started in January. Another will begin in September.
In addition to basic Cree, an intermediate course has been developing using Anderson's unique method of teaching. "We need more teachers, though, who can explain to students the animate and inanimate concept which is characteristic of the Cree language," she says. Although most classes are held at the centre, a teacher also goes out to an Edmonton group home, instructing seven eager young people.
The Alberta Heritage Language Development Award program was started in 1985 to honor individuals, teachers, administrators and parents who made a significant contribution towards the development of heritage languages. The commission estimates 12,000 Alberta children are enrolled in heritage language programs across Alberta.