‘Language is a vital part of culture’: The new Punjabi bilingual program being offered in Seven Oaks School Division.

A new Punjabi bilingual program is coming to Seven Oaks School Division next school year.

Amber Trails Community School will be offering the program to students in kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 2.  

“The community is excited about having the language learning happening in public school settings, rather than them sending students only to after school programs. So they are excited it’s part of the curriculum,” said school principal Navjeet Kambo.

Students will receive Punjabi instruction in core subjects for about half of the day. There will also be some focus on Indian culture and history.

Registration for the program opened two weeks ago, and has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response. Vice-principal Jamil Mian said an open house held this week was a huge success.

“We were surprised to hear from the community when we opened it up to questions and comments how proud the community was to have their languages represented in Canadian schools. So that was amazing to hear,” said Mian.

This is the fourth non-French bilingual program offered in the Seven Oaks School Division, which currently runs similar programs in Ukrainian, Ojibway, and Tagalog.

Kambo said Amber Trails was chosen for the Punjabi program because it is a hub for Winnipeg’s Indian community. “Language is a vital part of a culture. To keep culture alive, languages need to be flowing between generations, and they need to be passed on from one generation to the other.”

Seven Oaks anticipates expanding the program to other grades in the future.

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