New Waadookodaading Director Has Meet and Greet with TGB
Updated: Mar 15, 2022
By Joe Morey
Last week, the Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language School introduced their new Executive Director through a press release. Dr. Gordon Jourdain, a First Nations Ojibwe from Lac La Croix, Ontario, Canada, took over leadership of the school on Dec. 6, 2021. On Monday, March 7, Jourdain came before the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board (TGB) at their weekly meeting to hold a meet and greet.
Jourdain was introduced to council members by the school’s vice president, Michelle Haskins. They were also accompanied by two Waadookodaading board members, Rosie Gonzales and Jordan St. Germaine.
Jourdain told TGB when he first came to Waadookodaading as a teacher fifteen years ago, he had heard about the school in Saskatchewan. He said, “The school’s reputation goes a long ways.”
Jourdain went on to say he came to LCO back then and saw a powwow in the school, which he had never seen anywhere, and he almost kneeled down and cried.
“This is where I want to be,” he immediately thought to himself. He started out as an Ojibwe immersion educator at Waadookodaading after spending much of his early adult life as a carpenter. Gordon decided that he wanted to share his gift of language. He explained that he “didn’t find the same satisfaction with building because he had language he’d wanted to give away.”
According to the press release, Gordon started on his own formal education, and finished his undergraduate degree, graduate degree, and EDD in Teaching and Learning from the University of Minnesota—Duluth.
Jourdain told TGB when he first became a language teacher he didn’t have the formal education for teaching, so he first started taking classes at the LCO Ojibwe College.
“I have a strong Anishinabe identity, and this is something I want our young people to have,” Jourdain said.
LCO Vice Chairwoman Lorraine Gouge said she wants to see Jourdain build on the relationship between the LCO Ojibwe School and Waadookodaading.
“I’m really impressed with what you have done with your own education to achieve a doctorate degree. It’s not easy,” stated Gouge. “I’m really glad you are here to build up the school and look forward to what you will do for these kids.”
Haskins told the TGB there is a grant available to expand Waadookodaading to a k-12 school. She added it’s one of the goals they want to achieve under Jourdain’s leadership.
The press release stated that as Jourdain comes aboard, the opportunities are exciting, but also come in the midst of great challenges as many fluent first speakers of Ojibwe have passed away and WOLI continues to work hard at growing successful second language learners to sustain school operations while immersing the children there in the language.
Meeting with TGB were (L-R) Michelle Haskins, WOLI Vice President, Gordon Jourdain, Executive Director, Rosie Gonzales and Jordan St. Germaine, board members. TGB members in the photo are Gary "Little Guy" Clause, left, and Tweed Shuman, right.