Northern Translation Brief: 22Jan2020

Our Dear Partners,

David & Suzan Swappie are among our dearest friends in the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach. We first met them in 1988 when we moved into Noah Einish’s house to begin our journey into the lives and language of the Naskapi people. In the picture above, taken more than 25 years ago, David (on the right) is explaining a hymn from a Cree language hymnal with his wife Suzan (middle) to a group gathered at their home for a Sunday night Bible study. Noah is pictured on the left. (Noah passed away several years ago now.)

David at his home Bible study with the late Sandy Nattawappio

God’s Word at Work

In the summer of 1991, David and Suzan and several other people from the Naskapi community traveled to Mistissini, a Cree-speaking community in Northern Quebec. The occasion was a “Gospel Jamboree”, a gathering for hymn-singing and Bible teaching. These gatherings are still very common in First Nations communities, and whenever possible they are conducted in the local language. The James Bay Cree language spoken there is closely related to Naskapi, and most people understand each other well enough in conversation. David and the others heard the message of Christ’s love and forgiveness in a language very close to their own heart language, and responded to it with joy and a lifelong committment to following Jesus.

David & Suzan eagerly joined the other community members in 2005 and 2006 as we reviewed the Naskapi New Testament text before publication in 2007

We remember David earnestly requesting that we work on translating the books of the Old Testament into Naskapi. Even before the Naskapi New Testament was being worked on and completed, he was eager to read the lessons that these histories of the People of Israel provide for us.

In 2013, when the “Naskapi Language Specialist” program was instituted at the Naskapi Development Corporation, we finally began to have available to us some of the additional resources we needed to begin work on these Old Testament books.


http://billjancewicz.com/2013/04/21/northern-translation-brief-20april2013/


This program also had at its heart a goal to build up our translation and language development capacity for the long term, by recruiting bright, young Naskapi translation staff. During their training period, the first four Naskapi Language Specialists were each assigned to work on the first draft of a different Old Testament book.

Amanda Swappie worked on Joshua,
Kissandra Sandy worked on First Samuel,
Kabimbetas Noah Mokoush worked on First Kings, and
Medora Losier (David’s granddaughter) started work on Second Samuel.


Silas Nabinicaboo, as head of the department, had been working on the first draft of Judges, and more recently the Song of Solomon. He provides years of translation experience and guidance to the rest of the team.


For various personal reasons, some of the Language Specialists were unable to continue on in their roles, but in time they were replaced:
Tshiueten Vachon joined the team to continue on the first draft of the books of Jonah and Exodus, and has gone on to work on Deuteronomy, and now he has taken over working on First Samuel where Kissandra left off: only about 6 chapters still remain to be translated in this book as of January 2020.
Ruby Nabinicaboo was hired by the department in early 2019, and after working on Esther, has taken over work on the first draft of Second Samuel where Medora left off.
In the spring of 2019, the entire translation staff has determined to work on the book of Job together as a team.

Last October, we were traveling and staying overnight attending a Wycliffe event in Toronto. That evening we went to the event without our cell phone. Later when we were back in our room our cell phone rang with an “unidentified” phone number–it turned out to be David Swappie, calling from Kawawachikamach. Even though the they are dear friends, it is rare that we receive phone calls from them.

We talked with him on the phone in the Naskapi language, and after some brief preliminary greetings he got right to the point and asked us for something he has asked us for in previous years: “I want a Naskapi translation of the book of First Samuel.”

What a joy and answer to your prayers this phone call represents. We have asked you join us in prayer that God would create a hunger in the hearts of people for His Word–and this is an encouraging answer to those prayers.

Because of the work of the Naskapi Language Specialists over the past five years, we already have a good start on the very Scriptures that David hungers for. The first draft of 1 Samuel is done into chapter 20 already. There are also significant episodes for the book of 2 Samuel in first draft, through chapter 7. There are 11 chapters of 1 Kings, all of the book of Esther, and three chapters of the book of Job, too.

A “first draft” is only the beginning, much work remains before Scriptures can be published.

Each book needs to be “team checked” chapter-by-chapter by the entire translation team working together as a group.

Next, each team member is also assigned to do a “back-translation” of the Naskapi language translation into English. This not only assures the team that the translation is accurate, but also provides guidance and verification for Bible agencies and consultants.

After this, a translation consultant needs to review the translation with the translators to ensure exegetical accuracy and to provide training and capacity-building to the translation team.

In addition, Naskapi community members are be invited to participate in a read-through of the entire translation prior to official publication.

But David’s request is a welcome motivator and encouragement to the translation team. Answering his request provides David (and others) with a preliminary “checking edition”  that not only gives him access to these Scriptures that he’s been waiting so patiently for, but also provides a way for his input to be taken into account as the translation team strives to make a quality translation of the Word of God into the Naskapi language.

Standard size and large print checking editions of the book of Exodus in Naskapi and the Naskapi Old Testament portions in first draft.

Last November when we were completing the checking copies for the finished book of Exodus, we also prepared excerpts of the Naskapi Old Testament portions that David had requested, and printed out a few copies for distribution to the translation team and translation reviewers in the community.


They arrived in the community just before Christmas.

Suzan Swappie reading her (large print) preliminary edition of the Naskapi Old Testament portions last Christmas

David Swappie with his preliminary edition of the Naskapi Old Testament portions last Christmas

One of the stories that David has been waiting for (1 Samuel 3 & 4)

We are so grateful for this answer to your prayers, and being able to witness God at work bringing His message of hope to the Naskapi community through the work of the translators, and the wonderful opportunity that David’s request provided. Now, not only will he be able to read and provide encouragment and feedback to the translation team, but all those who gather in their home for Bible study, prayer and worship will also now hear the words of these Scriptures for the first time in the Naskapi language.

Thank you for your part in this.

Serving with you,
Bill & Norma Jean

A Whale Hunt and other stories

The late elder Joseph Guanish reading the new edition of Naskapi Genesis in 2013

Naskapi Language Literacy

The Naskapi people have been literate in their own language for a little over a century or so, beginning when the Anglican clergy brought Cree Scriptures and other religious materials with them to the trading posts where the Naskapi traded. But they have been oral storytellers for generations. Interest in encouraging a broader base of Naskapi people to be literate in their own language blossomed in the community and in the school in the 1990s, when an initiative was established to make Naskapi the official “language of instruction” for the earliest years of education. By the year 2000, children were learning to read and write in Naskapi by grade 3, and after this they transition into the majority languages for instruction in later school years.

Naskapi children reading with Lana Martens at the Naskapi New Testament Dedication in 2007

But to develop and maintain literacy, it is imperative that there be a wide selection of material to read in the language. Many items are being translated: from the Bible, hymnals and prayer books at church, to curriculum and other teaching materials at the school. For years, it has also been the standard practice to translate all administrative documents, reports and minutes of meetings held in the community.

The Naskapi Legends and Stories Project

One of the most valuable projects begun by the Naskapi Development Corporation (NDC) was to produce high-quality Naskapi language reading materials in the Naskapi language from the minds and culture of the Naskapi people themselves. This article is about the Naskapi Legends and Stories Project.

In the fall of 2019, the NDC published their sixth volume in this project series, Wapimakuch ka-nuchahakinuch: A Whale Hunt and other stories.

The groundwork was laid for this series of books even before there was a Naskapi Development Corporation; indeed before there was a Naskapi community at Kawawachikamach.

Some Naskapi History

Until the early 20th century, the Naskapi people were a loosely affiliated indigenous people society living in small independent family groups: nomadic caribou hunters whose territory spanned the northern portion of the Quebec-Labrador peninsula. According to Henriksen (2010), the Naskapi probably came together infrequently, perhaps only annually at the peak caribou-hunting season. Until it was closed in 1868, the first principal trading location for the Naskapi was the Petitsikapau post, called Fort Nascopie by the Hudson’s Bay Company, situated on the southern extreme of the traditional Naskapi hunting territories (see the first story in A Whale Hunt, “Petitsikapau to Chimo”).

Fort Chimo visitors, c.1884 (photo by L.M. Turner)

Following the closure of Fort Nascopie, the Naskapi took their trading business either north to Fort Chimo, near Ungava Bay, or east to the Davis Inlet post, on the Atlantic Ocean; and thus began a process which would eventually lead them to become two separate and sedentary groups. Those who hunted in the northern and north eastern areas of the interior frequented Fort Chimo and Fort McKenzie, and those hunting farther south and east traded at Davis Inlet (Utshimassits). Subsequently, each group would adopt distinct Christian traditions, the Eastern Naskapi (Mushuau Innu) becoming Catholics and the Western Naskapi becoming Anglicans.

Canoe coming ashore at Fort McKenzie, c.1942 (photo by P. Provencher)

In 1956, the Fort Chimo (Western) Naskapi journeyed south to the mining town of Schefferville where educational and medical facilities, as well as employment opportunities in the recently opened iron ore mines were becoming available (Cooke 2012). A year later they were moved two miles away from the town, to John Lake, where they remained until 1972, along with some Montagnais who had moved to Schefferville from the Sept-Iles area.

It was during this period in John Lake that the stories in this book, along with dozens of other tipâchimûna and âtiyûhkinch were performed by John Peastitute and recorded.

John Lake community, c.1962 (photo by A. Cooke)

Naskapi Storytelling

Like other indigenous peoples, the Naskapi have a long tradition of storytelling, passing histories and legends from generation to generation. And, like other Algonquian-speaking groups, the Naskapi distinguish two main genres of storytelling: tipâchimûn is the word for true adventures or histories in which the storyteller himself or other eyewitnesses are characters in or eyewitnesses to the story, and âtiyûhkin is the word for stories which are from a distant “time before now”, generally referred to as “legends”, and often include animal characters.

It may be simple to say that the difference is merely that tipâchimûna (plural form of tipâchimûn) are “only” historical accounts while âtiyûhkinch (plural form of âtiyûhkin) are “only” myths or legends (Ellis 1988). But in truth the dichotomy goes much deeper than this. Tipâchimûna may and often do contain fantastic, amazing or unbelievable accounts—but âtiyûhkinch follow a strict and ancient narrative formula. Savard (1974) calls them “that which must be conveyed”. In his treatise on the Wolverine stories he says that the storyteller he worked with would never have considered the idea that someone could invent a new âtiyûhkin. These stories can only be transmitted from one storyteller to another.

John Peastitute

John Peastitute (1896-1981) was a Naskapi elder who was not only well respected as a story-keeper, but also an accomplished storyteller. His repertoire of both tipâchimûna and âtiyûhkinch was extensive, and his performances engaging. The tapes of his stories that have survived to be processed and studied are a precious legacy.

John Peastitute with his wife Susie Annie, near Fort McKenzie c.1942 (photo by P. Provencher)

While he knew best the area north and northwest of Fort McKenzie, where he hunted and lived most of his adult life, John traveled during his lifetime virtually everywhere in traditional Naskapi territory and then some, deferring to others who best knew the way and what was likely to be found. Before settling at Schefferville, John had trecked even beyond traditional Naskapi territory as far as Sept-Iles (Uashat), North West River (Sheshatshit), Davis Inlet (Utshimassits) and Great Whale River (Whapmagoostui) places where some of his relatives would take their trade and eventually settle. John himself settled with his family in the Schefferville area in the 1950s with the rest of the Naskapi community.

Recording the stories

In 1967 and 1968, when John was in his 70s, Serge Melançon visited the John Lake community near Schefferville to record traditional indigenous stories on audio tape. He was working with the Laboratoire d’anthropologie amérindienne under the supervision of Rémi Savard, on a project to collect oral traditions of several Quebec groups and to compare the content and style of the similar stories across linguistic and cultural boundaries. Savard’s book Carcajou et le sens du monde: récits Montagnais-Naskapi is one of the results of that project, and interested readers would do well to consult it for a thorough cultural analysis some of these and the other stories told by several First Nations in Quebec. (This book is written in French; the title in English is: Wolverine and the Sense of the World: Montagnais-Naskapi Stories, Savard 1971.)

Cover of Savard’s book

The collection of Innu and Naskapi tapes that were originally collected by Savard’s project remained the property of the Laboratoire, but copies on cassette tape were later released to linguists for eventual transcription. Many of the Sheshatshiu Innu (of Labrador) stories from this project are available on the innu-aimun.ca website, and as printed books (Lefebvre, Lanari and Mailhot 1999).

Following the completion of Savard’s project, copies of the Naskapi tapes, along with photocopies of some of the transcriptions, were placed at the NDC office, which was located in Schefferville at the time.

In the course of our compilation of the Naskapi Lexicon, the NDC Board decided to also take on the task of transcribing and translating the stories as a cultural development project.

From Tapes to Books

In the early 1990s, I (Bill) was invited to work alongside the Naskapi translators working at the NDC office in Schefferville on the Naskapi Lexicon, and to help facilitate their other language development projects. During August and September of 1994, I listened to all the tapes and compared the content with the pages and pages of documentation that came with them, and then produced an inventory of all the stories, their (presumed) titles, their position in the audio collection, and I catalogued all of the associated documentation.

With my help, NDC translators Phil Einish and Thomas Sandy read and annotated the photocopied material. Some of this material had been typed, some handwritten. Some were photocopies of Melançon’s or other’s field notes, and some were preliminary transcriptions of the tapes made by Elijah Einish in the early 1980s. Some of the photocopied pages had been keyboarded by Dr. Marguerite MacKenzie or one of her students at Memorial University in the late 1980s.

Alma & Phil at work (1999)

In the late 1990s, the Naskapi Legends and Stories Project goals were set down, and it was decided that it was necessary for each recording to be carefully reviewed phrase by phrase by the Naskapi translation team and the linguistics consulting team, and thoroughly transcribe the text in Naskapi. At that time, the team was made up Naskapi translators Silas Nabinicaboo, Philip Einish and Alma Chemaganish, and consultant linguists Dr. Marguerite MacKenzie, Dr. Julie Brittain, and myself serving as the project’s faciliator and coordinator.

Literary translation process

While our primary goal has always been to render the stories into the Naskapi writing system so that they would be accessible as literature for current Naskapi readers in Kawawachikamach, a secondary goal has been to reproduce in English the elegance and stylistic skill employed by the storyteller, while remaining as faithful as possible to the original text.

The translation process we eventually adopted involved several stages. In group sessions the digital audio file of each story was listened to line-by-line, while the Naskapi team followed along reading a transcribed version in syllabics, which was projected on a screen for the group to see. Each word of the transcription was verified for accuracy and faithfulness to the performance, and translated into a fairly literal rendering in English. Further, each verb was parsed for its inflectional morphology, and the Naskapi team provided information about accurate translation, natural expression, and cultural matters.

Story review and translation session with Dr. Marguerite MacKenzie and the Naskapi team (2014).

As each story is thus meticulously annotated, reviewed and corrected, careful notes are taken and maintained by Dr. Marguerite MacKenzie with the transcription and translation.

Dr. MacKenzie has served as professor and head of the Department of Linguistics at Memorial University, Newfoundland, and has spent her career working with speakers of Cree, Innu (Montagnais) and Naskapi on dictionaries, grammars, and language training materials. She is co-editor of the East Cree Lexicon: Eastern James Bay Dialects (2004, 2012), the Naskapi Lexicon (1994) and the English and French versions of the Innu Lexicon (2013).

These notes were then turned over to Dr. Julie Brittain at Memorial University in Newfoundland, a specialist in Algonquian syntax as well as a gifted English translator of the Naskapi text, with the ability to capture not only the meaning of the original story, but able to also communicate something of the style of the story based on her study of Naskapi language structures. If any questions arise during this stage, these questions are once again reviewed and answered by the Naskapi team at Kawawachikamach before the text is ready for the formatting and typesetting stage. This is followed by commissioning illustrations and designing the publication, after which a proof copy is provided to the editors and the translation team.

Typical working story analysis sheet used by the Naskapi team and linguists

The John Peastitute story series

The present goal is to produce topical collections of stories from John Peastitute’s 1967 recordings, during which he told 36 different stories. The team decided to begin with the traditional legends, the âtiyûhkinch, first. John told a series of several stories that had a wolverine as their main protaganist, which fall into the category of Algonquian “trickster” legends. So we decided to do all the wolverine stories as our first volume, which was published in 2013.

Each volume in the series is organized into four major sections. First, there is the original Naskapi story, written in the Naskapi language for Naskapi readers. This section is printed in a clear, large-size type, paragraphed and formatted with section headings and hand-drawn illustrations.

The Naskapi Development Corporation commissioned our daughter, Elizabeth Jancewicz, to produce the illustrations. This was a natural project for Elizabeth since she grew up in the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach and Schefferville, arriving with us there when she was only one year old.

After attending the Naskapi school, Elizabeth studied art at Norwich Free Academy in Connecticut and Houghton College in New York. She returned to the Naskapi community in 2010 to teach art to Naskapi children at the Naskapi school. Today she serves as the visual arts component of the creative team in the touring band Pocket Vinyl. She continues work full time as a professional artist and illustrator, providing beautiful and culturally appropriate work to accompany this series. She also has a growing portfolio of books, graphic novels and commissions. (www.pocketvinyl.com).

The Naskapi reading section of the Wolverine book

The second section in the books contains the literary English translation, based on the work of the Naskapi team and the consultant linguists, but crafted and rendered in a literary style designed to reflect the Naskapi storyteller’s craft. This translation is prepared by Dr. Julie Brittain.

Dr. Brittain currently works as an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics at Memorial University, Newfoundland. She began research on the dialect of Naskapi spoken at Kawawachikamach in 1996 and continues to work on this and related dialects. She is the author of The Morphosyntax of the Algonquian Conjunct Verb: A Minimalist Approach (2001) and has written numerous articles on the structure of Cree, Innu-aimun and Naskapi.

English translation section from the Giant Eagle book

The third section of the books contains background information about the culture and history of the Naskapi people, along with an in-depth discussion of some of the content of the stories that might be relevant to better understanding. This third section also contains academic bibliographic references to guide the interested reader to resources for further reading (see the links and bibliography at the bottom of this article to see for yourself).

The fourth section of the books provides a display of the Naskapi text rendered in a phonemic spelling (pronunciation) set parallel to the translation, line-by-line. This is provided so that students of indigenous languages have access to the stories for further study and analysis. Each line of the text is numbered in order to assist readers in finding their place in the stories presented in the other sections of the book.

Parallel Naskapi and English section for linguistic study from the Chahkapas book

Online Resources

We are also working on producing the audio recordings of the stories so that they are available for airplay on the local Naskapi radio station. These radio programs are also available to listen to online via live-stream or download at the following website: https://yourlisten.com/NDevCorp.

Online repository of the Naskapi stories in audio: https://yourlisten.com/NDevCorp

Most of the books that contain tipâchimûna (historical accounts) also feature printed maps, labeled in Naskapi and in English with the traditional Naskapi placenames in their territory. Like most indigenous cultures, the Naskapi people have a close affinity with the land, the physical resources and the animals that live there with them. Many of the stories have detailed accounts of travel and survival on the land, and references to real places where these events actually happened.

Printed and online GIS map from the Achan: Naskapi Giant Stories book

The books with maps also contain geographic information system (GIS) data with online content so that users can explore these sites using online services such as Google Maps or Google Earth. Here is an example link to the maps from our 2019 book, Wapimakuch ka-nuchahakinuch: A Whale Hunt and other stories.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1S5EkbHzxhWLdMfkja5liEJ7zDVtzpvdZ&usp=sharing

Google Maps showing the Naskapi overland route from Fort McKenzie to Fort Chimo

Google Maps showing a closeup detail of Limestone Falls (ᒥᔅᑎ ᑭᔅᒐᒄ ‘big steep waterfall’ )

http://googleearthcommunity.proboards.com/thread/6410/whale-hunt-stories-wapimakuch-nuchahakinuch

Naskapi History by Naskapi People

Even though what usually comes to mind when this project is discussed are the legends of talking animals and amazing events, mainly covered in the genre of âtiyûhkinch featured in the first few volumes of this series. But in recent years the series has transitioned to books containing exclusively stories told in the tipâchimûna genre, that of true and eyewitness accounts. The present volume A Whale Hunt and the previous volume Caught in a Blizzard (2017) contain stories of caribou hunting, fox hunting and even whale hunting; stories about journeys across their broad and beautiful land in all of the extremes winter and summer weather; and accounts of danger and disaster, starvation and exposure, drownings and war. Through it all we can hear of the resilience of the Naskapi people, their dependence upon and knowledge about the resources of the land, and their relationships with each other and the early visitors to their territory, both European (mainly fur traders) and strangers from other indigenous groups. Some readers may find the stories raw or disturbing, but they reflect the hard realities of survival (and often, death) in a landscape that while vast and breathtaking can be unforgiving.

In these stories we gain a perspective of life on the land through the eyes of the people who lived it. While they remain stories that were originally meant to be heard in an oral context, told in certain seasons of the year, at night in family groups by the fire, they provide a real history of the Naskapi people that can help us and indeed their own younger generations to understand who they are and are where they are from.

How to get the books

The best place to purchase books in this collection is at the Naskapi Development Corporation Head Office, in Kawawachikamach, Quebec. There a modest inventory of all the books are kept on hand so that anyone in the Naskapi community can come and buy these books at a very reasonable cost. Costs are kept lower than retail by purchasing wholesale in bulk quantities. But not everyone is able to purchase the books in person.

We help the Naskapi Development Corporation maintain an online bookstore where these and all the other Naskapi books can be purchased. You can visit the Naskapi Development Corporation “Storefront”, hosted by Lulu.com, at this link:

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/naskapi

Naskapi Development Corporation “Storefront” online bookstore

There you can find not only the books in the Naskapi Legend and Stories Project, but all the Naskapi language resources that the NDC makes available to the Naskapi community. The books in this series all come in three editions: economical paperbacks (sc), durable hardcover (hc), and deluxe, library-quality clothbound books with dust jackets.

Cloth-bound, library-quality with dust jacket; hard cover (hc); economical paperback (sc)

Cloth-bound, library-quality with dust jacket; hard cover (hc); economical paperback (sc)

You will find, in the online store, that each edition is listed separately. If you are interested in a particular edition such as the economical paperback (sc), be sure to select a book that has “(sc)” in the title, like this:

Three editions of the Whale Hunt volume

As we pointed out earlier, Wapimakuch ka-nuchahakinuch: A Whale Hunt and other stories, is our sixth volume in the Naskapi Legends and Stories project. You can find all the titles that have been published so far in this series available on our online store.

The first six titles in the Naskapi Legends and Stories Project

It is our privilege be a part of helping to make these traditional Naskapi stories available to Naskapi people today and for future generations. We are grateful for the opportunity.

–Bill Jancewicz, project facilitator,
for the entire Naskapi language team, the linguistic consultants, and the illustrator

References and recommended further reading:

Armitage, Peter. 1992. “Religious Ideology among the Innu.” In Religiologiques: Sciences humaines et religion 6 (automne 1992) edited by Guy Ménard. Montreal: UQAM http://www.religiologiques.uqam.ca/

Baldwin, Gordon C. 1970. Talking Drums to Written Word. New York: Norton.

Brittain, Julie, and Marguerite MacKenzie. 2014. “Umâyichîs.” In Sky Loom: Native American Myth, Story, Song, 379-398. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

———. 2005. “Two Wolverine Stories.” In Algonquian Spirit: Contemporary Translations of the Native Literatures of North America, 121–58. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

———. 2011. “Translating Algonquian Oral Texts.” In Born in the Blood: On Native American Translation, 242–74. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

Canada, Government of. 1975. James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA). Ottawa, ON: Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
http://www.naskapi.ca/documents/documents/JBNQA.pdf.

———. 1984. Northeastern Quebec Agreement (NEQA). Ottawa, ON: Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. http://caid.ca/AgrNorEasQueA1974.pdf.

Carlson, Hans M. 2009. Home is the Hunter: The James Bay Cree and their Land. Vancouver BC: UBC Press.

Ellis, C. Douglas. 1989. “Now Then, Still Another Story—”: Literature of the Western James Bay Cree: Content and Structure. Winnipeg, MB: Voices of Rupert’s Land.

Hammond, Marc. 2010. Monts-Pyramides and the Naskapis: A report to Nunavik Parks Department of Renewable Resources, Environmental and Land Use Planning Department. Kuujjuaq, Quebec: Kativik Regional Government.

Henriksen, Georg. 2010. Hunters in the Barrens: The Naskapi on the Edge of the White Man’s World. New York: Berghahn Books.

———. 2009. I Dreamed the Animals: Kaniuekutat: The Life of an Innu Hunter. New York: Berghahn Books.

Lefebvre, Madeleine, Robert Lanari, José Mailhot. 1999 & 2004. Sheshatshiu-atanukana mak tipatshimuna. St. John’s, NL: Labrador Innu Text Project. https://cura.innu-aimun.ca/english/stories/.

MacKenzie, Marguerite. 1980. “Towards a Dialectology of Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi.” PhD thesis, Toronto, ON: University of Toronto. https://cura.innu-aimun.ca/english/resources/papers/papers-mm/.

MacKenzie, Marguerite, and Bill Jancewicz. 1994. Naskapi Lexicon / Lexique Naskapi. First Edition. 3 vols. Kawawachikamach, QC: Naskapi Development Corporation. https://dictionary.naskapi.atlas-ling.ca/#!/help

Peastitute, John. 2013. Kuihkwahchaw: Naskapi Wolverine Legends. Edited by Marguerite MacKenzie. Translated by Julie Brittain. Kawawachikamach, QC: Naskapi Development Corporation.

———. 2014. Chahkapas: A Naskapi Legend. Edited by Marguerite MacKenzie. Translated by Julie Brittain. Kawawachikamach, QC: Naskapi Development Corporation.

———. 2015. Achan: Naskapi Giant Stories. Edited by Marguerite MacKenzie. Translated by Julie Brittain. Kawawachikamach, QC: Naskapi Development Corporation.

———. 2016. Misti-Michisuw: The Giant Eagle and other stories. Edited by Marguerite MacKenzie. Translated by Julie Brittain. Kawawachikamach, QC: Naskapi Development Corporation.

———. 2017. Iskwachiwatinisuch: Caught in a Blizzard and other stories. Edited by Marguerite MacKenzie. Translated by Julie Brittain. Kawawachikamach, QC: Naskapi Development Corporation.

———. 2019. Wapimakuch ka-nuchahakinuch: A Whale Hunt and other stories. Edited by Marguerite MacKenzie. Translated by Julie Brittain. Kawawachikamach, QC: Naskapi Development Corporation.

Preston, Richard. 2002. Cree Narrative: Expressing the Personal Meanings of Events. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Quebec, National Assembly of. 1979. “An Act Respecting the Naskapi Development Corporation.” Québec, QC: Publications du Québec. http://legisquebec.gouv.qc.ca/en/ShowDoc/cs/S-10.1.

Savard, Rémi. 1971. Carcajou et le sens du monde: récits Montagnais-Naskapi. Troisième édition revue et corrigée edition. Civilisation du Québec 3. Éditeur Officiel du Québec, Québec. http://classiques.uqac.ca/contemporains/savard_remi/carcajou/
carcajou.html.

———. 1985. La Voix des Autres. Positions anthropologiques. Montréal: L’Hexagone. http://classiques.uqac.ca/contemporains/savard_remi/
voix_des_autres/voix_des_autres.html.

Speck, Frank. 1977. Naskapi: The Savage Hunters of the Labrador Peninsula. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

Tanner, Adrian. 2014. Bringing Home Animals: Mistissini Hunters of Northern Quebec. St. John’s, NL: ISER Books.

Waldram, James Burgess. 2004. Revenge of the Windigo: The Construction of the Mind and Mental Health of North American Aboriginal Peoples. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

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Northern Translation Brief: 18Nov2019

Our Dear Partners,

A few weeks back we asked you pray for several Naskapi translation projects that were current and nearing completion. Today we are pleased to report to you about the revision of the Naskapi Lectionary (Year A), and some answers to your prayers.

A lectionary is a collection of Bible readings to be read to the faithful during the worship of God. Lectionaries have been used since the fourth century, when major churches arranged the Scripture readings according to a schedule that follows the calendar of the year. This practice of assigning particular readings to each Sunday and Holy Day has continued through the history of the Christian Church.

Since the 1990s, the Naskapi translators have worked with St. John’s Church in Kawawachikamach, with the selection, translation and production of lectionary readings in the form of a printed Sunday “church bulletin” of Scripture. We were guided by the Revised Common Lectionary, which is the pattern used by the Anglican Church of Canada and many other denominations around the world.

The translators worked hard each week for several years to provide printed copies of the Scripture for the congregation

About nine years ago, it was decided that it would be far more practical to produce a book that contained all the readings for an entire year. Even though most of the translation and checking was done, it was still a big job to collect all the readings for an entire year into a book. But this was finally completed and the first book (Year A) was dedicated on Sunday, April 17th 2011.

Rev. Martha Spence and Deacon Silas Nabinicaboo at the dedication of the Naskapi Lectionary in 2011

Since the Revised Common Lectionary provides Scripture readings spread out over a three-year cycle, during the next three years we worked on the production of all three books: Year A (liturgical year 2010-2011) Year B (liturgical year 2011-2012) and Year C (liturgical year 2012-2013).

Year A (blue book) Year B (red book) Year C (green book)

Of course, when Year A rolled around again during Advent of 2013, more copies of the blue Year A books were prepared, and the cycle repeated.

As the years went by, the Naskapi translation team continued to work on their long-term translation goals: the book of Genesis was published in 2013, and translation proceeded on other Old Testament books. During the spring of this year, the book of Psalms was published in Naskapi and dedicated alongside the “Book of Bible Promises“, a topical collection of Scripture readings in Naskapi.

Psalms and Bible Promises books at the front of the church on Dedication Day

Remember that the lectionary readings for each week contain a passage from the Old Testament, a reading from the Psalms, a portion of the Epistles, and a section of the Gospels. A year of lectionary readings contains hundreds of verses from all parts of the Bible.

As usually happens in the course of our ongoing translation work and checking, many of the readings contained in the lectionary are often corrected to make their spelling more consistent, or revised somewhat to make the meaning more clear or natural. These corrections needed to make their way into a new edition of the books.

Therefore, this fall it was decided to completely update the book of readings for Year A, liturgical year 2019-2020, beginning with the next Sunday of Advent, coming this December 1, 2019.

The format of the new book is very similar to the previous books, but every Scripture passage has been updated to its current corrected form. We have also updated the accompanying index and calendar, and included simple instructions to locate the readings for any Sunday in the year. The revision also has a newly designed cover.

We completed the final composition and formatting for the books on November 1. On November 8 we received the first “proof copy” (the book pictured here) and upon review and approval we ordered a supply of 30 books to be printed and shipped to the Naskapi church.

We received notice from the printer that the books were printed, packed and shipped last week, on November 14th, and are now on their way to Kawawachikamach.

There is still a very good chance that these new books will be delivered to Kawawachikamach before the end of the month, which will be just in time for the First Sunday of Advent, December 1, 2019. When they receive their books, the congregation will find all the readings for that Sunday starting on “page 1”.

Thank you for your prayers for this project, which makes the Scriptures in Naskapi available to the congregation in Kawawachikamach every Sunday. Please continue to remember “FedEx” and “Canada Post” this week, as they do their job and get these books “to the church on time”.

Serving you with joy,

Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz

 

Northern Translation Brief: Bill’s head injury after two years

Our Dear Partners

Most of you will remember that a couple years ago I had a serious accident with a tree, a ladder and a chainsaw that almost took me from you. By God’s grace I am still here to live and serve Him in our lives and Bible Translation ministry for First Nations.

From time to time people have asked me about my recovery and so we thought that the two-year mark would be a good time to take stock and take the opportunity to thank you for your prayers.

Briefly it happened like this: On November 7th, 2017, I was about 12 feet up a ladder against a large tree, holding a chainsaw, cutting off a large dead branch next to me. The branch broke suddenly and hit me in the skull knocking me and the ladder to the ground. I woke up hours later in a hospital, with Norma Jean anxiously waiting by my side.

Here’s the butt of the branch that hit me in the head. Somehow, I was underneath this (and, somehow, Norma Jean lifted it off me).

You can read the full account of what happened here:

http://billjancewicz.com/2017/11/11/one-hundred-nineteen-unread-email-messages/

God is Good, All the Time

During these past two years, Norma Jean and I have counted each day together as a precious gift. We both know that God protected me from more serious injury or death, even though the actual recovery period has taken many months. As I noted, the only broken bones were my skull, which received a half-inch depressed fracture at my temple between my left eye and ear, and three cracked vertebrae in my upper back between my shoulders. I also suffered a severe concussion that resulted in dizzyness and disorientation for several months. I was on strong Oxycodone-based prescription pain medication for the first several weeks, but recognizing the dangers of addiction to this medication I chose to voluntarily reduce the prescribed dosage. I was no longer taking this medication by the beginning of January 2018. The severe back and head pain could be reduced considerably by changing to a more reclining position. So I took my desk work to the living room and spent many of my days (and some nights) in a reclining chair. This went on for months.

Because of my dizzyness and disorientation, Norma Jean took over most of the driving. We also had good friends helping to drive us to appointments, and I walked with a cane well into the spring of 2018. The doctors had cautioned us that a brain injury like mine made me vulnerable to much more severe injury should I bump my head again. The fractures of my vertebrae would heal in time, but the displaced bone in the skull fracture would remain that way indefintely.

Gradually, over the full year of 2018, the constant headaches reduced considerably, and I was able to regain some stamina. I started walking without a cane. Indeed by the end of 2018 I had begun to do some physical work, such as operating the log splitter or carrying out minor home repairs. But I did find that I was only able to work a relatively short amount of time, an hour or so, before having to head back to the recliner and do some “other” kinds of work.

Other kinds of work

We are so grateful to God for the privilege of joining Him in His work of bringing His Word to First Nations languages, mainly the Algonquian languages of Naskapi, Cree and Innu. During the weeks prior to the accident, I had begun to work with Rev. Fred Evans as he read and recorded the Cree scriptures in the legacy 1862 Western Cree Bible. Fred, a Cree elder and pastor, lives with his wife in Swan River, Manitoba. He started to read and record the Cree New Testament in November of 2017. By phone and internet connection, I was able to guide Fred through the recording of each chapter of the Bible from Matthew to Revelation. I received his audio files via internet and spent my days (in my La-Z-Boy) carefully editing the audio files, following along in the Cree Bible and listening to Fred’s clear and faithful reading of the text. In general, for each hour of Fred’s recording, it would take five hours of listening and audio-editing on the computer to prepare the files for others to listen to. Our ministry partners, the Canadian Bible Society, SIL International, and Faith Comes By Hearing provided the technical support for this task–but God provided just the right kind of work to suit my physical limitations at the time, as I carried all the editing work for the first six months of the project, which were the first six months of my recovery.

Rev. Fred Evans working at his home during the recording stage for the CreeTalker Bible

Later, I trained our friend Ben Wukasch at the Bible Society to share the audio editing task with me, and so together we had the audio for the entire New Testament in Cree complete by March of 2019.

Read more about the CreeTalker Bible recording project” here:

http://billjancewicz.com/2019/02/03/northern-translation-brief-creetalker-bible/

We continued to supervise, mentor and support the other “Next Generation” translation teams during my recovery. It has been so gratifying and encouraging to see that God in His wisdom was preparing these younger folks to carry on His work as we had to slow down a little during these past couple of years.

http://billjancewicz.com/2018/07/02/northern-translation-brief-the-next-generation-update/

How do I feel right now?

God continues to amaze me every day for His care and healing for me. I am still “aware” each day and every day of ongoing symptoms from the skull fracture and concussion. Real severe “headaches” are much less frequent now, and I treat them with Tylenol. I still have them about four or five times per month. But they usually don’t “stop” me. On good days I can still feel a sensation of discomfort at the damaged area of my skull–not really very painful as far as that goes, just an awareness of some uncomfortable pressure; like the feeling you would get when you are wearing a hat… that’s too small… all day long.

My back pain can act up if I “push” physical activity too much–such as if I am up and doing things, walking, home repairs or maintenance; splitting wood. These days, sometimes I do go beyond a couple hours or so of that kind of activity, and I am sorry I did, afterwards.

I was almost 62 years old when I had the accident. Next week, I’ll be 64, Lord willing. So I feel pretty good and I am so grateful for all of God’s blessings on my life and His work.

Gratitude

Our family members, our friends and supporters, and the church have all been used by God in mighty ways to remind us of His care, and to deliver his care. Many meals were brought in to us during the early weeks of my convalescence, prepared by the women of Simcoe Immanuel church. The men of the church have repeatedly pitched in to help cut, split and haul firewood. We are deeply grateful for these expressions of love and care.

I know that many, many prayers were offered to God for my health and recovery by most of you. God has answered your prayers wonderfully, and He continues to do so. We are very grateful for all He has done and continues to do through you. We praise His Name and once again express our thanks. Thank you for being along side of us during this journey over the past two years.

Serving with you,

Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz

Northern Translation Brief: 18Oct2019

Our Dear Partners,

We are rejoicing in the blessings of God this autumn harvest season. We can see His goodness and provision all around us, reflected in the beauty of the leaves on the trees and His care for our lives.

In the Naskapi community, we are pleased to see steady progress toward their goal of translating through the Old Testament. Silas has completed the first draft of the book of Judges, and has gone on to work through the Song of Solomon. Tshiueten has completed the first draft of the book of Deuteronomy, and is continuing on with the book of First Samuel. And we congratulate Ruby who successfully completed several weeks of her program at Mawiomi Treatment Center in Gesgapegiag, Quebec this summer, and is back at her translation desk, working on the book of Second Samuel.

Ruby completes her treatment–continue to remember her in your prayers

Amanda, the fourth translator working on the Naskapi project is on an extended leave of absence working as a conservation officer on the land, and is expected back to the translation desk in early 2020.

I (Bill) stay busy reviewing the Naskapi translation work, and facilitating the composition (typesetting) and publication of their work. I am currently working on the final layout of the book of Exodus in Naskapi, which is due to come out before Christmas, Lord willing. Just ahead of that I am working on compiling a new revised edition of the Sunday Lectionary Readings: These are weekly readings in Naskapi of a different passage from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Epistles and the Gospels that are read each Sunday and Wednesday in the Naskapi church services. The first edition of this collection was prepared and distributed nearly 9 years ago. We would like to have this revised edition finished and published and in the pews of the Naskapi church before the First Sunday of Advent, on December 1, 2019. Pray with us that we can reach this goal.

Dedication of the First Edition of “Year A” Naskapi Sunday Lectionary in 2010

We have been busy in other ways too. During the past year we applied to become a “resource home” with the Ontario Children’s Aid Society. In common terms that means that we have been trained and approved to serve as foster parents for children in crisis. In mid August, the agency called us to say that they had two small boys to place with us. The oldest just turned five years old in September, and his brother is two years old.

The Childen’s Aid Society goal is to eventually place the children permanently with a family member, but in the meantime the boys find care and safety, love and routine in our home with us. Pray for us, that our influence on their lives is positive and nurturing, and that we would have the wisdom and patience it takes to care for little ones in our home again.


In the middle of September we were blessed to be a part of our youngest son Nicodemus’ wedding to Brooklyn, in Langley BC. We are so happy that she is a part of our family now. It was wonderful to have all of our children, our grandchildren Nya and Arion, and Bill’s mom Martha all together with us for the wedding.

Nico & Brooklyn have posted a collection of photographs of the wedding that you may view here if you like:

https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1BWdfOq7UpoDGJ2uNhEbB6GOsZOfyyOnX

Thank you once again for your interest and prayers for the Bible translation ministry that God has entrusted us with.

Serving with you, Bill & Norma Jean

 

 

Northern Translation Brief: Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree VBS 2019

Our Dear Partners,

Thank you for your prayers for the Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree Vacation Bible School (VBS) that was held this summer the week of August 5-9, 2019. This is the third year that we have helped facilitate and conduct this “Scripture Engagement” event. This was first proposed in January of 2017, when the Oji-Cree Bible Translation team in Kingfisher Lake expressed their hearts desire to us for the children of their community (their next generation) to hear the message of the Gospel in their own language. Their twofold goals were (1) to have local Oji-Cree speakers and church members gain experience in conducting their own VBS programs for their children and (2) to provide their children with wholesome activities through their summer school break.

This year, the Oji-Cree leaders met with us at the April workshop in Guelph to confirm their desire to have us come and help them again this summer. The topic they chose for this summer’s VBS was the Easter Story, which was woven into memory verses which remind us that even when life is be hard, God is Good, as the theme for the week.

Travel to the North

Kingfisher Lake is an isolated First Nations community in northern Ontario, where the Oji-Cree language is spoken. On Friday morning, August 2nd, the six travelers met with loved-ones and members of the Simcoe, Ontario Immanuel Church for prayers and farewells before we drove to the Toronto Pearson Airport for the first leg of the trip, a 2-hour flight to Thunder Bay.

Ashley & Amy, Bill & Norma Jean, Eric & Elizabeth at Immanuel Church in Simcoe, Ontario

Immanuel Church has been praying and fundraising so that we could send two of our youth, Ashley Booth, and Amy Lewis. Our daughter Elizabeth Jancewicz has been working for months helping with the plans and creating the culturally-appropriate visual images and crafts for the program. We were also very happy that her husband Eric Stevenson could come again this year to help with games and music. Norma Jean was the overall VBS coordinator and liaison with the Oji-Cree team.

We were very happy to also have help from new friends from another church in central Georgia, USA. Almost five years ago, in the fall of 2014 when the Oji-Cree Bible translation project was just starting, Harvest Church provided generous financial support through Wycliffe Bible Translators that enabled the hiring and training the initial Oji-Cree Bible Translation team. Since then, God has been speaking to the people at Harvest Church to find out how they might partner with the Oji-Cree Bible translation project more closely. They sent members of their congregation, Jim & Ellie Fuss, to participate in this year’s VBS program at Kingfisher Lake.

Ellie & Jim Fuss from Harvest Church in Byron, Georgia

Eric & Elizabeth, Amy and Ashley waiting for our first flight from Toronto airport.

Because of flight connections to the northern communities, we spent the night in Thunder Bay at a hotel where we met up with Jim & Ellie who had just arrived there from Georgia. We  got up bright and early to take the morning flight to Sioux Lookout on Wasaya Airlines, a First Nations-owned airline that services the northern communities in Ontario and Manitoba.

Ellie at the Wasaya counter in Thunder Bay

We are grateful to the Lord that the weather was fine for all the flights from Toronto to Thunder Bay, to Sioux Lookout, to the little Oji-Cree community of Summer Beaver, and finally to Kingfisher Lake by Saturday afternoon.

Boarding Wasaya’s Beechcraft 1900D in Sioux Lookout

So, after three planes, six airports, 1100 miles, 14 hours, two time zones, and one sleep all in one and the same Canadian province*, we made it to the Kingfisher Lake community in northern Ontario.

*Jim & Ellie Fuss traveled much farther and longer than we did–more planes, more miles, more airports and more countries!

Vacation Bible School

We were met there at the Kingfisher Lake airport by our good friends from the Oji-Cree community along with Matthew and Caitlin Windsor and their family, the Wycliffe team who have been there for a year now to assist the Oji-Cree Bible translation project. They brought us to our rooms at Mission House, where we all began to unpack, sort and organize the VBS materials, and plan the week with the VBS team.

VBS “plan for the week”

On Sunday, the team went to worship at St. Matthew’s church in Kingfisher Lake, and later continued our preparations for the VBS program.

The team prepared the VBS program for two different age groups each day: Kindergarten through grade 3 in the morning, and grade 4 through grade 8 in the afternoon. Each group had an age-appropriate song time, Bible story, crafts time, snack time and game time during their session every day.

Registration

Every day we met the children at the door, learned their names, and gave them name-tags in the shape of a cross.

Afternoon Attendance

Song Time

Eric led a fun singing time as the children gathered each day.

Bible Story

Norma Jean told a Bible story while Elizabeth drew an extra-large “colouring poster” that illustrated the story. During crafts time, colouring the poster was one of the options.

Crafts time

There were different arts and crafts projects prepared each day that the children could do that were related to the topic or the VBS theme.

One of the major crafts was for the children to screen-print their own t-shirts and sweatshirts, with help from Elizabeth and all of you who contributed to the sweatshirt fundraiser. These were appreciated by all the children and leaders.

Snack time

To keep everyone’s energy up for all these activities, snacks were prepared and served to the children each day. Everyone pitched in with the crafts and snacks.

Game time

Eric was a wonderful game leader and the children had a good time playing old games (musical chairs) and learning new ones (stack the cups and steal the bacon).

Story Review

After game time, everyone sat down to hear Norma Jean re-tell the story, and having the children fill in the details… sometimes with the help of Mrs. Beaver and Mr. Moose!(Elizabeth and Eric).

Answered Prayers

All our travels went reasonably well. Some children came every day, and those that came really seemed to enjoy all the parts of the program. The VBS staff from outside worked together well with the local VBS staff. It was wonderful serving along side Matthew & Caitlin Windsor and their family, now living at Kingfisher Lake for the past year, and continuing their service there as Bible Translation facilitators.

This was also a good opportunity to work with the Oji-Cree translation team on “team-checking” the book of Mark. The team is on track to complete the entire Gospel of Mark by the end of this year, Lord willing.

Oji-Cree Translators Jessie, Ruth, and Mary working with Matthew

Team-checking the Gospel of Mark in Oji-Cree

Prayer Requests

It was wonderful to see Matthew & Caitlin’s new “Tiny House” that had just been positioned next door to the Mission House where the translation project is located (and this year’s VBS). But so far they still are “camping” in their home until they can be hooked up to running water and electricity. Please pray with them for the completion of their new home on-site, utilities and other details.

The Oji-Cree translation team would also like your prayers as they seek to grow their team in numbers and capacity.

Pray for us too, as we consider about how God would have us participate in His work in the Kingfisher Lake community in years to come, and that they will hear as God continues to speak his message in the language of their hearts.

Serving with you,

Bill & Norma Jean for the entire Kingfisher Lake VBS team

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Translation Brief: 2019 Translator Workshop Participants

Workshop Participants / First Nations translators

Ruby Nabinicaboo Kawawachikamach Quebec, Naskapi
Amanda Swappie Kawawachikamach Quebec, Naskapi
George Guanish Kawawachikamach Quebec, Naskapi
Tshiueten Vachon Kawawachikamach Quebec, Naskapi
Ruby Sandy-Robinson Kawawachikamach Quebec, Naskapi
Maggie Mokoush-Swappie Kawawachikamach Quebec, Naskapi
Robert Swappie Kawawachikamach Quebec, Naskapi
Ruth Kitchekesik Kingfisher Lake Ontario, Oji-Cree
Peter Kitchekesik Gillam Manitoba, Swampy Cree
Sandra Fox Big Trout Lake Ontario, Oji-Cree
Mary J. Mckay Big Trout Lake Ontario, Oji-Cree
Maryann Miles Shamattawa Manitoba, Swampy Cree
Rosemary Thomas Shamattawa Manitoba, Swampy Cree
Jimmy Thorrassie Tadoule Lake Manitoba, Dene
Linda Hagedorn Black River Manitoba, Ojibwe

Thank you for remembering these in during the workshop. Pray for their families back home, for their travels and health, and for God’s work in their lives.

April 7-12, 2019 Guelph, Ontario

Northern Translation Brief: 2019 Translator Workshop Staff

Workshop Staff

Meg Billingsley (staff) consultant/instructor
Carletta Lahn (staff) Scripture Access Team Leader
Myles Leitch (staff) consultant/instructor
Ben Wukasch (staff) Mission:Literacy books facilitator
Dolores Sand (staff) Mission:Literacy books facilitator
Matthew Windsor (staff) project facilitator, instructor
Caitlin Windsor (staff) project facilitator, instructor
Hazel Windsor (3 year old) (staff child)
Eli Windsor (1 year old) (staff child)
Martin Reed (staff) project facilitator, instructor
Alice Reed (staff) project facilitator, instructor
Grace Reed (10 month old) (staff child)
Terri Scruggs (staff) Project Liaison
Ruth Heeg (staff) consultant/instructor
Jeff Green (staff) consultant/instructor
Steve Kempf (staff) consultant/instructor
Bill Jancewicz (staff) coordinator/instructor
Norma Jean Jancewicz (staff) coordinator/instructor

Observers, Guests

Mark MacDonald (guest) National Indigenous Bishop
David Standley (observer) Wycliffe Canada candidate
Avery Standley (observer) Wycliffe Canada candidate
Azariah Standley (1 year old) (observer) Wycliffe Canada candidate child
Beth Scott (observer) Wycliffe Canada Intern
Tom Scott (observer) Wycliffe Canada Intern
Josiah Scott (1 year old) (observer) Wycliffe Canada Intern child
Brandie Green (observer) Wycliffe Member Care advisor
Susanna Muntz (observer) Wycliffe VP External Relations and Engagement
Ruth Ciglen (observer) Runnymede Church partner
Don Richardson (observer) Runnymede Church partner
Chris Richardson (observer) Runnymede Church partner
Abe Koop (observer) Wycliffe Engagement Team advisor
Debbie Koop (observer) Wycliffe Engagement Team advisor
Trevor Kitt (observer) Wycliffe IT candidate

Thank you for remembering these in prayer now and during the workshop. Pray for their families back home, for their travels and health, and for God’s work in their lives.

April 7-12, 2019 Guelph, Ontario

Northern Translation Brief: Psalms-The Book of Praises in Naskapi

Our Dear Partners,

On the 3rd Sunday of Lent, March 24th, 2019 there was a special service held at St. John’s Parish, Kawawachikamach, for the dedication of the translated book of Psalms in the Naskapi language. This is another important milestone for the work the Naskapi translation team does in making the Bible available and accessible in their own language Work began on the Naskapi Bible translation project in the 1990s. The Naskapi Development Corporation (NDC) partnered with St. John’s Parish and Wycliffe Bible Translators to build a translation team that sought to fulfil the vision of the late Joseph Guanish, long time chief of the Naskapi Nation, former president of NDC, and mentor and inspiration to the team and the community.

He lived to see his vision begin to be fulfilled with the publication of the New Testament in the Naskapi language in 2007, followed by the dedication of the book of Genesis in 2013. The Translation of the Psalms into Naskapi was initially a part of Lectionary Readings for Sundays and Holy Days (2012), using the Psalter included in Bishop John Horden’s 1889 Book of Common Prayer in the Cree language as the primary source material. With the present publication, the Naskapi Development Corporation is pleased to present all 150 Psalms to Naskapi readers for the first time in a single volume. Our prayer is that these Scriptures would bless the Naskapi people for generations as they have blessed millions of God’s people around the world for thousands of years.


How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

ᑕᓐᑕ ᒐᒋ ᐅᒋ ‍ ᐸᔭᒋᑕᑦ ᐅᔅᒋᓂᒋᓱᐤ ᐅᑦ ᐃᓯᑥᐅᓐ?
ᐊ ‍ ᐃᔭᒂᒥᓯᑦ ᐊ ‍ ᐃᔅᒋᔄᒥᑭᓂᔨᒡ ᒋᑦ ᐃᔨᒧᐅᓂᔪᐤ᙮
ᒥᓯᐛ ᓂᑕᐃᒡ ᔅᒋ ᐅᒋ ‍ ᓇᓂᑐᐛᔨᒥᑎᓐ:
ᐅ ᐊᑲᐎᔾ ᓇᐊᔨᒥ ᒐᒋ ᐅᓂᒥᑎᒪᔭᓐ ᒋᐎᓱᐛᐅᓇ ᐅᒡ᙮
ᒋᑦ ᐃᔨᒧᐅᓐ ᓂᒋ ‍ ᑲᑕᓐ ᓂᑕᐃᒡ,
ᒐ ᐊᑲ ᒋ ᒥᒋᑐᑕᑕᓐ᙮

–Psalm 119:9-11–


The book of Psalms is one of the books of the Bible that give us wisdom on how to live well. It is a collection of raw, honest prayers poured out to the Lord that cover a wide range of life experiences. Each was composed in response to a real-life situation or celebration. Together they cover the full spectrum of human emotion, from exuberant joy to agonizing pain.
The Psalmists invite us to express our true thoughts and feelings to God. We do not have to hold anything back. We are not alone in the ups and downs of life. Instead, we have the assurance that God is faithful and good, and His presence is with all who trust in Him.

The translation team expressed to us how proud they are of this accomplishment, and the Naskapi people are also grateful to have still another part of the Bible available in their own language. Continued work on translating the Old Testament into Naskapi is still an on-going project that we are committed to, and provides them with another way of preserving their language, and know and love God better.

Psalms books at the front of the church on Dedication Day

Our friend, the Rev. Silas Nabinicaboo, the deacon at the Naskapi Church, asked us to tell you:

“The Naskapi community and St. John’s Parish would like to express our deep thanks to all those who have been dedicated to this project. The early drafts of Psalms were prepared and reviewed by the late Joseph Guanish, and work continued on this project over more than fifteen years by myself, joined by Naskapi Language Specialists Amanda Swappie, Ruby Nabinicaboo, Tshiueten Vachon. We are filled with gratitude to everyone who provided their guidance, and assistance, and to all who gave their support for this project.”

Please join us in praise and thanks to God and congratulations to the translation team at Kawawachikamach for this accomplishment!

Serving with you, Bill & Norma Jean

Deacon Silas Nabinicaboo tells about the new book of Psalms at the Dedication Service

Prayers of dedication for the new books

Young Naskapis who learn to read at school can now read the Psalms for the first time

Older Naskapis expressed their gratitude after having waited many years for this day

People of every generation will treasure “Psalms: the Book of Praises in Naskapi” for years to come

The Book of Psalms in Naskapi is also available to the general public through online sales:

http://www.lulu.com/content/21310118

 

Northern Translation Brief: CreeTalker Bible

Our Dear Partners,

The Scriptures are a verbal message from God, in words. We sometimes call it the “Word of God”. God has gone to great lengths to communicate His love to us, both in words in a Book, and in giving us His Son (the story of which we also read about in a book… in Hebrews 1:1-2).

Sometimes, there are barriers to undertanding this message. Often we think of the enterprise of Bible translation itself as one means of overcoming this barrier, and you would be right. Each of us reading this now has benefitted from someone having translated the Bible into your language, English: the language I am writing to you in, and which you are reading. But this communication also assumes that in the course of your life you have had the opportunity to read English fluently. To many, the Bible still remains a closed book if they have not adequately mastered literacy.

1862 translation of the Bible in Western Cree

Pictured above is a page from the Bible in Western Cree, opened to Matthew chapter 5, the Sermon on the Mount. This book belonged to a believer who invested years of his own life to learn to read and understand what is written in this book, and as a result he was blessed with the skill to grasp the hope and love that this message communicates in the Cree language.

But the reality is that among speakers of the Cree language (and indeed, many other First Nations languages) there is only a small minority who have learned to adequately read their mother tongue. It is true that First-language literacy education continues to gain ground among children in communities that are developing indigenous language curriculum in their schools. But for some, literacy in their traditional language remains out of reach.

But we all know that one way we can overcome this literacy barrier quickly is to simply have someone read a book TO us. This is why in many languages where we serve in Bible translation ministry there are also important efforts to make the Good News of the Scriptures available in non-print media. For the old translation of the Bible in Western Cree, this began with the CreeTalker project.

The CreeTalker project

In the fall of 2017, at the request of Cree speakers in Saskatchewan, Pastor Mark Ramshaw contacted us about the availability of the Cree Language Scriptures in audio, so they could listen to and hear the Word of God in Cree. While the Canadian Bible Society and Wycliffe Bible Translators have been working for some years on a new Contemporary Plains Cree translation, and most of the Cree Scriptures that have been published recently also have an audio narration, Pastor Mark and the Cree speakers he represents were actually interested in an audio recording of the old Western Cree Bible, that was first translated by Rev. William and Sophia Mason and published in 1862. This edition was later revised by Rev. J. A. Mackay in 1904 (New Testament) and 1908 (Old Testament).

This Bible has been reprinted many times over the past century by the British and Foreign Bible Society, and is still much loved and revered by people in many First Nations communities across Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

After making some inquiries, it was found that no audio recordings of this Cree Bible were yet available. So Pastor Mark stepped out in faith to establish the “CreeTalker Project” which would undertake the production of a spoken audio version of this edition of the Cree Scriptures.

Pastor Mark secured some donations to purchase the recording equipment that would be used for this project.

Pastor Mark Ramshaw with the new digital audio recorder for the CreeTalker project

Rev. Fred Evans, Cree speaker and longtime preacher and evangelist in the Cree language, graciously agreed to be the “voice” for the CreeTalker Project. Bill helped Fred & Mark to facilitate the technical end of setting up the recordings, best practices for file handling, editing software, and a quality control procedure.

Rev. Fred Evans was dedicated to the task of reading the Bible in Cree for the CreeTalker project at a special service with Pastor Mark in early November 2017

By December 2017, Fred had begun to read and record the old Cree Bible in his home in Swan River, Manitoba, starting with the book of Matthew. As Fred finished his recording of each chapter, he would send these files on to Bill by Internet connection, and he would listen to Fred’s recording, take care of the audio-editing of the sound files while reading along with the Cree text, and look after sound enhancement and overall quality control.

Rev. Fred Evans recording the old Cree Bible in his home

Over the first 9 months of the project, Rev. Fred has recorded nearly 80 hours of “raw” (unedited) audio files, creating one computer sound file for each of the 260 chapters of the New Testament. For every hour of this recorded audio, it can take from four to six hours of editing work, carefully following along with the printed Cree text, removing false starts and mistakes, making the pauses and phrasing consistent, and bringing the sound quality and volume to adequate levels.

Listening to the chapter and editing the sound file, helping Rev. Fred sound his best

By mid-August 2018, Rev. Fred completed all of the “raw” (unedited) files when he finished reading the final chapter of the New Testament. He completed his reading of Revelation chapter 22 with a heartfelt “Hallelujah, glory to God!” and then this prayer: “…Let these words fall into the hearts of those who sit in darkness, to bring light, to bring hope. Thank you Lord, in your Name, Amen.”

Over the past several years, the Canadian Bible Society has been working toward a new reprint of the text of this legacy Cree Bible, and has digitized the text and is preparing to re-publish it to make it accessible in both Cree Syllabics and in the Standard Roman Orthography. Pastor Mark contacted the Bible Society early on in the project to coordinate the audio distribution and production.

In the spring of 2018, Ben Wukasch began to work at the Bible Society offices. Bill went to set Ben up with the software and training so that he could help with the audio editing task too. Since May 2018, both Ben and Bill have been doing the sound editing for Rev. Fred’s recorded chapters.

Ben Wukasch working on Cree Scripture audio editing at the Canadian Bible Society

Synchronized Scripture App

In February 2018, Bible Society leadership asked Bill to work on a “demo” of a Scripture app that would integrate Fred Evan’s narration and the written text of the Cree Bible, synchronized so that users could hear Fred read while following along with the text. By the month of March, a working version of the CreeTalker Scripture app was ready to be tested on a limited basis. At that time, the entire book of Matthew was ready to hear and see in the demo format.

Each phrase that is being played back is highlighted making it easier to read along

Using specialized software that integrates the printed text of the Bible with the audio recordings, each verse is timed to highlight the spoken word so that the user can read along, following the words on the screen. The software then creates an “app” and talking EPub books that can be installed on smartphones, tablets or computers, which will enable users to take the Cree New Testament along with them and listen to Rev. Fred read the Scriptures to them whenever they like.

Rev. Fred reading his Bible at home

This two-minute video provides a demonstration of what the Bible app or talking eBooks will be like when the project is complete (turn on your audio to hear Rev. Fred’s narration).

Video demonstration of the Western Cree Bible on iOS or Android devices

Ben and Bill estimate that they have a little over a month of editing work to do on the audio files before the entire New Testament is ready.

We appreciate your prayers for them both as they complete this work, for Cree speakers who hunger and thirst for access to the Word of God in their language, and for the prayer offered by Rev. Fred to also be answered in a mighty way: “…Let these words fall into the hearts of those who sit in darkness, to bring light, to bring hope. Thank you Lord, in your Name, Amen.”