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Algoma University Grad Wins Dove Fellowship

Walpole First Nation grad Brandee Ermatinger recently received exciting news that she has been awarded a prestigious DOVE Fellowship from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. The fellowship, valued at approximately $48,000, will help fund her Master of Arts in Linguistics from the American post-secondary institution, and cover living expenses while completing her graduate program.

Ermatinger enrolled at Algoma University after completing a two-year general arts and sciences diploma from Lambton College in Southern Ontario. Before earning her diploma, she became involved in a grassroots Ojibwe language immersion program within her community, which piqued her interest in learning her tribe’s language. The program, however, was basic in nature. “It didn’t give me any grammatical structure to understand precisely what I’m saying and what they’re precisely saying to me.  It didn’t help me to understand any grammatical rules or nuances in Ojibwe.”

From there, Ermatinger enrolled in the three-year Bachelor of Arts in Anishinaabemowin program at Algoma University, where she has learned the grammar and structure of the Ojibwe language. She graduated at the 2017 June Convocation ceremony.

While studying in Sault Ste. Marie, Ermatinger became interested in the study of linguistics, the structure and science of languages.

But even then, Ermatinger never considered further pursuing the study of linguistics. It took some convincing from Professor Howard Webkamigad, a professor at Algoma U who has his Master of Arts in Linguistics, for Ermatinger to see the value in such higher learning.

The more Ermatinger researched linguistics, the more interested she became. Plus, with very few other Ojibwe people classified as linguists in North America, she realized her language was severely understudied and underrepresented.

In the winter, Ermatinger visited the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis to explore the possibility of studying in the United States. “There were lots of enthusiastic young people in the language here, which was really exciting for me. It was nice to connect with other people who are learning the language and speaking the language.”

Ermatinger then applied to the program.  Within only a few days of applying she received a phone call from the program’s director, accepting her into the program.

After her acceptance, Ermatinger was notified that the University of Minnesota was nominating her for the prestigious DOVE (Diversity of Views and Experiences) Fellowship, a graduate-level grant awarded to students who promote diverse views, research, scholarship, and creative excellence.  Each graduate program is only allowed to nominate two students for the fellowship each year and the Institute of Linguistics hadn’t had a DOVE Fellowship student in many years.

Much to her surprise, Ermatinger received notice shortly after stating she was a successful candidate for the DOVE Fellowship. The $48,000 award will cover her living allowances, travel expenses, tuition, books, health coverage, and more. “I’m very honoured to be awarded this fellowship. It’s nice – for the first time in a long time I don’t have to work two jobs and be a full-time student. I don’t have to have the added stress. It’s nice to not have to worry and to just concentrate on my studies and research.”

While pursuing her masters, with the intent of later earning her doctorate, Ermatinger will be examining psycho-linguistics. “Psycho-linguistics is an area that has very little information from the Ojibwe people or the Ojibwe language. I think by studying it, it will not only help with my tribe and our people, but also with other tribes to create and welcome more diverse views”:

Before beginning her formal studies in September of 2017, Ermatinger will be participating in a paid six week research institute program this summer at the University of Minnesota.

Written by: Meaghan Kent

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