Boy, 9, earns A in university class

MAGGIE KIRK Kai Schmiedendorf and his grandfather, Jean-Guy Denomme, pose outside of Algoma University where they completed an Ojibwe language course.

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Kai Schmiedendorf aced his university Ojibwa language course.

He earned a 94 per cent. He was nine at the time.

Schmiedendorf and his Grandfather, Jean-Guy Denomme, took the course together because they have Ojibwa heritage. They knew very little of the language beforehand, but “it immediately seized my interest” said Schmiedendorf.

He had to miss two weeks of school at Boreal French Immersion as the course ran from 8:30 am until 3:00 pm, six days a week.

“It was worth missing,” said Schmiedendorf.

He is also a strong student at Boreal. Schmiedendorf said it wasn’t very difficult to balance his Grade 4 studies with the course, but he had work to catch up on when he returned to Boreal.

“Some people in my class say I’m a genius,” said Schmiedendorf, “but it’s only to words.”

“It was very, very challenging.” said Denomme, “I was a little more challenged than my grandson.”

He described the class as “a very enlightening experience, and humbling.”

“It took a lot of practice and hard thinking,” said the Grade 4 student.

Schmiedendorf also speaks french. He wants to continue learning Ojibwa, and is researching ways he can learn more languages.

“I think all languages have some sort of cultural connection to something,” he said, “The Ojibwa language is really connected to the earth. When I hear Ojibwa, I realize a lot of the grammar is tied to the earth.”

Ojibwa is originally an oral language. “How you learn the Ojibwa language is to absorb it rather than read it in a notebook,” said Schmiedendorf.

He doesn’t yet know what he wants to do in the future, but he said, “I have many plans, though.”

Denomme and his grandson agreed the teaching staff did a great job sharing their knowledge with students.

They want to say “Chi Miigwetch” to Algoma University, the teaching staff, and fellow classmates, meaning “grand thank you”.

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