A pioneer in Indigenous education from Nova Scotia’s Potlotek First Nation has been named an honorary Officer of the Order of Canada.
Marie Battiste is being recognized for her contributions to the field of Indigenous education and her commitment to traditional languages and knowledge. Battiste spent much of her career in Canada — she is now a professor at the University of Saskatchewan — but grew up in Houlton, Maine. She holds a master’s degree from Harvard and a PhD from Stanford University.
“I was shocked when I found out because I didn’t think I qualified as a citizen of the United States,” Battiste told CBC News.
“That’s why I get the ‘honorary’ distinction, and it is an honour to have that.”
Battiste said her fascination with Indigenous curriculum began when she started working with Mi’kmaq students in Cape Breton. She moved to Saskatchewan in 1993, but still has family in Cape Breton.
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Battiste said young Indigenous people need a strong inner foundation to help themselves and their communities.
“When you know your own histories and understand your own language, you are not just an ambassador, but you can learn to help your people through self-determination and reconciliation,” she said.