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According to the children, their favourite stuffed animals, including Tiga the wolf cub, talk to them whenever their Kokum leaves the room. Some episodes are filmed on location in different Aboriginal communities, including the Peace Region, and include a feature on Aboriginal culture. In addition to exploring Aboriginal culture, Green explains the show also focuses on speech and language sounds for young children.
“We introduce children to their native tongues, but as well we target regular speech and language sounds that children typically across the board have difficulty with.”
The show uses a speech pathologist who lets them know which sounds some children have problems learning, and the writers try to get the children to repeat them in creative ways. For instance, one episode looks at the “kuh” sound, and the stuffed animals sing sounds using that sound and tell a story about Katie the Clown.
Green got involved in the project after Executive Producer Hilary Pryor saw her working as an Early Childhood Educator in a local First Nations community. They co-wrote the storyline together, and were successful in getting the show picked up on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. Green says she’s proud of the program, as it offers a unique learning experience for children of all cultures.
“I really think it’s very important that the Aboriginal children see themselves as a part of the community,” she says. “I just think it’s important for all children to see themselves as being just a part of the norm, not just Aboriginal children, all children.”
She points to shows like Dora the Explorer as being successful in introducing children to other cultures. It’s also a personal issue for her, as she wasn’t allowed to learn her native languages – Cree and Beaver – when she was a child, for fear of being sent to a residential school.
For a variety of reasons, this will be the last season of Tiga Talk. Although the show itself is nearing its end, Green hopes other shows will continue to target young children with cultural and educational programming.
“I think it’s really important for children to learn who they are, where they come from, and that they are as important, or that they are just important and wonderful the way they are.”
Season 4 of Tiga Talk airs Friday and Saturday mornings, starting in September. The Cree version starts Friday, September 7 at 10 a.m. and the English version starts Saturday, September 8 at 9:30 a.m. on APTN.
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