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.
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:
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.
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 newContemporary 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 oldWestern 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.”
We have been looking forward with gratefulness to celebrating the birth of Jesus this year. It has been an especially challenging year, as we continue to recover strength, wellness and stamina after Bill’s accident with the tree, ladder and chainsaw on November 7th 2017. Even though the time required can be discouraging, we rejoice in your prayers for us with a dependence in God’s blessing and His sovereignty, and assurance of His love.
We wanted to remind you all of how God continues to lead us in our work in Canada: As you know, it’s been more than 30 years now since we first moved to Canada to work with the Naskapi community at Kawawachikamach in Northern Quebec. We raised our family there and we both served the community as a linguist and as a teacher. We worked alongside community members in language development, literacy, and Bible translation. It was 11 years ago this year that we helped their team to complete the Naskapi New Testament. God continues to speak through His Word to the Naskapi community, and their hunger for more scripture in their language continues to grow, along with their own capacity to accomplish the ongoing work on the Old Testament themselves.
‘He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Moreover, the Naskapi have inspired and motivated other First Nations communities that do not yet have scriptures in their own languages. For the past 5 years, after much reflection and prayer, our vision that God would multiply His work by raising up a team of younger Bible Translation facilitators is being realized. Two teams now serve as we have in several other communities, while increasing the number and capacity of First Nations translators themselves through mentoring and training workshops. The Naskapi project has grown to become an important training location and inspiration for the new teams whom they have invited to serve internships there in Kawawachikamach.
Meanwhile, God is also at work in other communities that speak closely related languages–in Oji-Cree in northern Ontario, Innu in Labrador, Plains Cree in Saskatchewan, and Swampy Cree in Manitoba–and our vision of seeing of several new Bible Translation and language development projects get started is becoming a reality. Matthew & Caitlin Windsor are now working full-time as language project facilitators with the Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree community. Alice & Martin Reed are now living and working among the Western Swampy Cree communities in Northern Manitoba. Tom & Bethany Scott have just completed their internship with the Oji-Cree translation team this fall, and David & Avery Standley have just joined Wycliffe Bible Translators in November, and are preparing for service in one of the communities still waiting for access to the Scriptures in their own language.
Our continuing role is to mentor and support these new teams and projects. Bill’s accident and recovery period has shown us that these translation projects are in God’s hands, under His control, and not ours. We actively support and guide the new teams using current communication technology, while the new teams begin to carry more of the on-site tasks, working in the local language communities.
The Naskapi work also continues in Northern Quebec, which we still support at a significant level. We are helping them with the final stages of typesetting and layout for the books of Exodus and Psalms in Naskapi. In addition, we are planning with our team members the next First Nations Translator training workshops in April 2019.
We are grateful to God for our home here in southern Ontario. It is a place for the new teams to come for rest and renewal and also gives us time with them to discuss project goals and challenges. It also provides us a place from which we can travel to assist in the communities in the north.
Thank you again for your continued care and prayers for us, for your interest in Bible Translation and reconciliation with our First Nations brothers and sisters. Thank you for your many gifts and reminders of your love and care for us in these days of restoration, recovery, and dependence upon God.
On Sunday, October 14th, a special service was held at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Quebec City to honour and recognize the Naskapi speaking congregation at Kawawachikamach.
Many members of St. John’s Church, Kawawachikamach were on hand to participate in this service
The Anglican Diocese of Quebec (of which the Naskapi parish is a member) presented a celebration to commemorate a change in the status of the Naskapi church.
During the summer, we were informed about this change, which (in the words of council) is as follows:
The Diocesan Executive Council, gave its formal and unanimous approval to making St. John’s church, Kawawachikamach, a region of its own. This means that the Naskapi parish will have guaranteed representation at both our diocesan Synod and the Diocesan Executive Council. This does not address all of the issues surrounding the fuller participation of Naskapi Anglicans in the decision-making bodies of our diocese, but they believe it is an important step along the way, and is in keeping with the Anglican Church of Canada’s wider efforts to support Indigenous self-determination within their church’s structures.”
The Bishop (Bishop Bruce Myers) also extended his personal invitation to us so that we might present the story of Naskapi Bible Translation at that celebration. He said that this would help to raise awareness of the Bible translation project in the life of the diocese and to highlight the evident growth in the Naskapi church and lives of the Naskapi people because of receiving the Scriptures in their own language.
It was a special treat for us to see and speak with a number of our Naskapi friends who were on hand for the service and reception. We are so grateful to God for the work that He continues to do among them.
The weekend of October 25-29 we are off to the 50th Algonquian Conference in Edmonton, an academic conference where we will be presenting a paper about translation.
After the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Gathering that was held at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan in 2014, there were several projects that were prioritized, including work on Oji-Cree, Cree and Naskapi Bible translation projects, along with activities focused on building the capacity of the local communities to accomplish these translation goals. One necessary part of capacity-building includes the recruitment and training of new Bible Translation facilitator teams to work alongside language speakers in their communities in the north.
A key part of the preparation for these Bible Translation facilitator teams is a period of in-field training and language service with the Naskapi translation project. During this time of gaining experience living in an isolated northern First Nations community, the new teams will serve the Naskapi as Linguistics Interns, taking part in the facilitation of a real ongoing language program there.
To help the new teams with a smoother transition to their in-field training period, they accompany us on one of our working trips to the Naskapi community. In August of 2018, David & Avery Standley (and baby Azariah) came with us to visit the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach, as their part of their introduction to the situation in Canadian First Nations, as well as a chance for us to get to know them better.
You may remember that in 2015, Matthew & Caitlin Windsor accompanied us to Kawawachikamach on a similar visit. You can read about that trip at this link here <link>.
And then in 2016, Martin & Alice Reed came with us to Kawawachikamach on their first visit there. You can read about that trip at this link here <link>.
Martin & Alice are now serving speakers of the Western Swampy Cree language in northern Manitoba, and Matthew & Caitlin are serving speakers of the Oji-Cree language at Kingfisher Lake in northern Ontario.
On this year’s trip, beginning last August 18, we picked up David, Avery & Azariah at the Buffalo, NY airport, and from there we drove for the next four days together up through southern Ontario and along the north shore of the St. Lawrence in Quebec to Sept-Iles, were we boarded the train to Schefferville. The train ride this time was 16-1/2 hours, arriving at Schefferville near midnight. We were met at the train by Naskapi translator Silas, who brought David & Avery to the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach in the wee hours of Friday morning, August 24.
Naskapi Translation Team Capacity-Building Workshop
Each workday we met with the Naskapi translation team to work through the various stages of translation for the current active Naskapi Old Testament translation projects, moving them closer to their goals. The team is now working on the books of Deuteronomy (Tshiueten), Joshua (Silas), Judges (Amanda), and Esther (Ruby). They have also just started work on the book of Job as a team project.
We also worked with other speakers and elders on revisions to the Naskapi dictionary, descriptions of the Naskapi grammar and books of Naskapi stories. Retired consultant linguist Dr. Marguerite MacKenzie from Memorial University in Newfoundland was on hand to provide her help and guidance with these projects.
Avery observes Dr. MacKenzie working on the Naskapi dictionary with elder Alma Chemaganish
Silas Nabinicaboo has been working on the first draft of the book of Judges in Naskapi
Tshiueten Vachon has recently begun the first draft of the book of Deuteronomy
Amanda Swappie has been translating the first draft of the book of Joshua in Naskapi
The newest member of the Naskapi team, Ruby Nabinicaboo, is working on the back-translation for the book of Esther
The Naskapi translation team learned more skills in how to use the computer-based translation resources that are available to them, along with reminders of the importance of the several other stages of Bible translation that come after the (1) “First Draft” is made, such as: (2) “Team Checking” of the passage with other members of the translation team to ensure accuracy, (3) “Community Checking” with elders and other members of the community to ensure clarity and naturalness, (4) “Back Translation” so that the text can be reviewed by exegetical consultants, ensuring that the entire meaning of the text is communicated.
David & Avery not only got to be a part of the workshops during the day, but also enjoyed connecting with the Naskapi people in the community outside the office, in recreational sports and community activities.
Avery is a welcome member on the volleyball team!
Azariah got to know some new Naskapi friends as well.
Jaiden, who used to stay with us when he was small, is doing well. He’s 11 years old now and enjoying school.
Some have asked if the new teams that God is sending to work with us are our “replacements”. Well, not exactly. It became clear that God is at work in many First Nations language communities across Northern Canada, and that for us to simply move on to just one other language project after Naskapi would not nearly begin to meet the need,
Tshiueten getting to know Azariah
besides the fact that the Naskapi team still requires continued support. So in answer to your prayers God has called additional Bible Translation facilitation teams like the Windsors, the Reeds, the Scotts and the Standleys to help serve in some of these other First Nations Bible Translation projects. And these are not all, either. See this post for more about these “Next Generation” Bible translation teams: <link>
Since the languages are all closely related, and the values and culture of these language communities share a lot in common, their planned in-field training period serving in a linguistics internship with Naskapi for several months will continue to support the Naskapi project in significant ways, moving the Naskapi team closer to a sustainable level of capacity, while also giving the new teams the practical skills and experience that they will need to work in the language communities that are still waiting for God’s Word in their mother tongues.
This will also enable us to leverage our own experience so that we can support these new teams as mentors, while God continues to use us to assist the other language projects where we still have the privilege to serve.
The Standleys hope to begin their Linguistics Internship with the Naskapi project sometime in the next year or so, and be ready to move on to another related language community, such as Innu, or Cree, who even now are still waiting for the scriptures in their own language.
Please continue to pray for David & Avery (and little Azariah) as they continue their steps of preparation and seek adequate support so that they may move to the north and begin their internship.
Pray for us that we will be sensitive to God’s leading and faithful to His call as we provide guidance to these new teams.
Pray for the First Nations language communities that we have already begun to work alongside of, and for those who are still waiting to have the message of God’s love and hope in their own languages.
Pray for the Naskapi team as they work toward their Old Testament project goals and learn to work in their own language program with more and more confidence and ability.
Thank you for your own interest, support and encouragement for this work that God is doing in minority First Nations language communities in Canada.
In just a few short days we will be journeying north again to the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach outside Schefferville, Quebec. We return to work with the Naskapi translation team there on their Old Testament translation, Scripture engagement and literacy projects.
As many of you know from our previous Translation Briefs, the Naskapi Bible Translation project has been not only the inspiration and motivation for other First Nations communities to begin their own translation projects, but the Naskapi project is also a place where Next Generation Bible translation facilitators can gain practical experience serving a project as Linguistics Interns. Two new young teams recently starting their service to other First Nations translation projects, the Reeds and the Windsors, have completed their internships at Kawawachikamach with the Naskapi.
This August we will be bringing still another young couple interested in serving in First Nations Bible translation with us to visit the Naskapi project. David & Avery Standley, and their son Azariah.
A “Skype” call with David & Avery last week
David & Avery are from Olympia, Washington, on the west coast of the United States. They both completed their undergraduate degrees in linguistics, and have also taken the field linguistics courses at CanIL (the Canadian Institute of Linguistics) at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC.
They will be traveling with us and their new little baby boy, Azariah, who is just 3 months old. They are flying here from the west coast to meet us for the first time this Saturday August 18, and we will be driving with them up to Sept-Iles, Quebec, to take the Thursday, August 23 train to Schefferville.
David & Avery are just visiting the Naskapi community with us this time, but if things work out, they are hoping to do an 8-month internship at Kawawa with the translation team eventually.
Besides Bible translation, we are also working with the Naskapi translation team on literacy projects, and are just in the checking and review stage of a new children’s book based on a traditional Naskapi story about Kachimayichasuw, mysterious mischievious beings that are said to throw rocks at Naskapi tents and steal supplies.
We will work with the Naskapi team until the first week of September, and return home around September 9, Lord willing.
Checking copy of “The Sneaks who Stole the Sugar” in Naskapi, illustrated by our daughter Elizabeth
Please remember us in prayer for safety and travel mercies during the long days on the road, for productive and instructive times with the Naskapi translation team, and for God’s continued leading and guidance in our lives, the lives of the Naskapi translators, and David & Avery.
Thank you for your prayers for the Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree Vacation Bible School (VBS) that was held this summer the week of July 23-37, 2018. This “Scripture Engagement” event is the second in a series that got its start when the Oji-Cree Bible Translation team in Kingfisher Lake expressed their hearts desire for the children of their community, their next generation, to hear the message of the Gospel in their own language. This year, the Oji-Cree leaders met with us in March to confirm their desire to have us come and help them again this summer. The topic chosen for this summer’s VBS was the life and teachings of Jesus, with the two greatest commandments as their focus ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mark 12:28-34) and “Love One Another” 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, July 20th, 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.
Eric Stevenson, Amy Lewis, Bill & Norma Jean, Elizabeth Jancewicz, Jacco DeBruin
Immanuel church has been praying and fundraising so that they could send two of their youth, Amy Lewis, and Jacco DeBruin. 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. This year we were so happy that her husband Eric Stevenson could come to provide help with games and music. Norma Jean was the overall VBS coordinator and liaison with the Oji-Cree team.
Amy and Jacco wait for their first flight from Toronto to Thunder Bay
Because of flight connections to the northern communities, we spent the night in Thunder Bay at a hotel and 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.
Elizabeth & Eric
Amy and Jacco
Due to weight limitations on the smaller plans to Kingfisher Lake, Jacco volunteered to surrender his bag as “low priority”, which meant that most of our priority VBS supplies could arrive on time. Jacco’s bag did arrive in Kingfisher lake two days later.
The weather was fine for all the flights from Toronto to Thunder Bay, to Sioux Lookout, to the little Oji-Cree communities of Summer Beaver and Wunnumin Lake, and finally to Kingfisher Lake by Saturday afternoon.
Bringing welcome treats to Kingfisher Lake
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.
Vacation Bible School
We were met there at the airport by our good friends from the Oji-Cree community along with Matthew and Caitlin Windsor and their family, the Wycliffe team newly assigned to assist the Oji-Cree Bible translation project. They brought us to our rooms at Mission House, where we all began to sort and organize the VBS materials, and plan the week with the local translation team.
On Sunday, the team had an opportunity to do a “dry run” of the VBS program when the local church leaders invited Norma Jean and the team to teach Sunday School at the Mission House. We were able to meet some of the children who would be attending the VBS program during the week.
The team planned the VBS program for two different age groups each day: Kindergarten through grade 3 in the mornings, 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. Besides help from the Oji-Cree translators and the Windsor family, we also had assistance from ministry workers with Northern Youth Programs (Ann & Lynnette) as well, who were in the Kingfisher Lake community for several weeks of service.
Every day we met the children at the door, learned their names, and gave them name-tags in the shape of a heart.
back row: Eric, Norma Jean, Bill, Caitlin, Hazel, Ann front row: Elizabeth, Amy, Jacco, Lynette
Eric led a fun singing time as the children gathered each day.
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.
There were different crafts 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 “hoodie” sweatshirt, with help from Elizabeth and all of you who contributed to the hoodie fundraiser. These were appreciated by all the children and leaders.
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.
Eric was a wonderful game leader and the children had a good time playing old games (musical chairs) and learning new ones (blob tag).
After game time, everyone sat down to hear Norma Jean re-tell the story, asking for the children to fill in the details with the help of Mr. Beaver and Mr. Moose (Eric and Elizabeth).
All our travels went reasonably well. More children came every day, and really seemed to enjoy all the parts of the program. The VBS staff from outside worked together well with the local VBS staff, and along with the ministry workers from Northern Youth Programs as well, who were in the community for several weeks of service. It was wonderful serving along side Matthew & Caitlin Windsor and their family, now living at Kingfisher Lake and beginning their service there as Bible Translation facilitators.
When we met with the Oji-Cree translation team leaders, they said that they were pleased with the program and asked us to consider having another program like it in the summer of 2019.
Matthew & Caitlin are still looking for permanent lodgings in Kingfisher Lake. Please pray that God would meet this need soon.
The Oji-Cree translation team would like your prayers as they seek to grow their team in numbers and capacity.
Pray for us as we think about how God would have us meet the needs and requests of the Kingfisher Lake community in years to come, and as we begin to plan our next trip north, to the Naskapi community in Northern Quebec at the end of this month (stay tuned!)
Serving with you,
Bill & Norma Jean for the entire Kingfisher Lake VBS team
Our Dear Partners,A couple years ago now, we posted a “Northern Translation Brief” that featured stories about how God is at work raising up The Next Generation of people who are committed to First Nations Bible Translation, especially among the Cree subgroup of the Algonquian language family.
We are so grateful for the way we have seen God bringing His people to join us and the First Nations communities in the work of helping to bring the message of hope in the Bible into many of these First Nations languages who are still waiting for it. This post is an update celebrating some milestones in the lives of these who have joined this work with us.
Matthew, Caitlin, Hazel and Eli Windsor on their way to Kingfisher Lake
Matthew & Caitlin Windsor
Matt and Caitlin are from Vancouver Island, British Colombia, Canada. They just completed their internship serving the Naskapi translation project in Quebec, where they helped with the completion of the books of Exodus and Psalms in Naskapi. After a short but busy visit with us in our home last week, on June 7th they arrived in the Oji-Cree language speaking community of Kingfisher Lake in northern Ontario. There they will support and facilitate the New Oji-Cree translation team in Bible Translation and language development.
Caitlin wrote on the day they arrived: “This morning I have two different lyrics from ‘Amazing Grace’ rolling through my head: ‘Tis grace has brought us safe this far, and His Word my hope secures.’ Praise the Lord, who has kept us on course all these years and brought us to this place!”
Martin & Alice Reed on their way to northern Manitoba
Martin & Alice Reed
Martin and Alice met while training for Wycliffe Bible translation ministry at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics (GIAL) in Dallas, and are united by a shared passion for crossing language and culture barriers to make God’s Word accessible to all. They completed their internship serving the Naskapi translation project in Quebec last fall, where they assisted the team with the completion of the Book of Bible Promises, and helped with the Psalms and the book of Exodus in Naskapi. They moved to the town of Thompson, Manitoba in December and celebrated the birth of their new daughter Grace into their family on May 31st.
Baby Grace Reed
Besides looking after baby Grace and each other, the Reed’s are continuing to make contact with believers and leaders in communities where Western Swampy Cree is still spoken by a significant percentage of the population. When they do, they share about the kinds of language development and translation services they can assist the communities with.
Tom & Bethany Scott and their son Josiah at the Mother Tongue Translator workshop
Tom & Bethany Scott
Tom is a linguist trained at CanIL in Langley, British Columbia. Bethany is a doctor and licensed as a family physician in Ontario. They are exploring the possibility of serving in both of these roles in a First Nations community where there is a need for Bible translation and language development work. At the moment they are working through the details of how they might serve an internship in a remote, isolated, northern community, with Bethany working as a medical professional and Tom working on language development and Bible translation.
Ben Wukasch working on Cree Scripture audio editing at the Canadian Bible Society
In our Next Generation post two years ago, we introduced Ben and his interest in being involved in what God is doing in bringing the Scriptures into the heart languages of First Nations people in Canada. He graduated from Princeton in the States, where he majored in Environmental Engineering and minored in Linguistics and Latin American Studies. He was involved in both mission work in Latin America and wrote his thesis on Appropriate Technology and Peru.
Meg Billingsley working with the Oji-Cree translation team at the MTT workshop
Meg isn’t exactly new to working in Cree language Bible translation: she served the Plains Cree translation project since around 2002, working mostly from Prince Albert, Sasksatchewan. She then took an assignment with the Mi’kmaq translation project at Sydney, Nova Scotia around 2008, where she has served as facilitator until this 2014, when she began her training to become a translation consultant. A year ago she also agreed to take a role as translation team leader as part of a larger team of our leaders who provide various types of support for translation teams working throughout North and Central America.
A translation consultant is someone who works with translation teams in a variety of languages to support translators in their work and help them to produce a translation which clearly and accurately communicates the meaning of Scripture in ways that sound natural in the language.
Meg just returned last week from her fourth consultant visit to the Oji-Cree project in Kingfisher Lake, Ontario. She is also working with the Bible Society on the consultant checking of the contemporary Plains Cree translation.
Amanda Swappie, Naskapi translator, co-presenting at the workshop with Alice Reed
Amanda is a Naskapi speaker and Naskapi Mother Tongue Translator who began work on the Naskapi project as a language specialist in the spring of 2013. At that time she was a part of an initiative to recruit and train new young indigenous language workers in her community. In the past five years she has grown in her abilities and confidence, and continues to develop in her skill and capacity as she serves her own community.
Ruby Nabinicaboo with her father Silas work together crafting a Naskapi Bible story
Ruby is the Naskapi project’s newest Naskapi Mother Tongue Translator, who was just hired this spring. She will be learning from senior translators like her father Silas Nabinicaboo and from her co-worker and peer-mentor Amanda Swappie. Amanda and Ruby are young mothers who also have the privilege and responsibility to pass on their traditional language to their own children at home, and are learning to model these habits to others in their community.
None of us is as important as all of us together–but it is The Next Generation that will carry the First Nations Bible translation movement forward beyond this generation.
Pray for Matthew and Caitlin Windsor and little Hazel and Eli:
that God would grant them everything they need to establish their family in Kingfisher Lake
that God would connect them with the people He will use to help them to learn the Oji-Cree language
that God would continue to show them His protection and grace each day in their new assignment
We are so grateful for your prayers for a successful First Nations Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) Workshop that was held in Guelph, Ontario in April. God has answered your prayers in wonderful and encouraging ways! This was our fourth such workshop in as many years.
Speakers from three language communities came to this year’s workshop
What is a Mother Tongue Translator?
Even though we serve with a “Bible Translation” organization, we ourselves do not really translate the Bible ourselves: it is the fluent, “mother tongue” speakers of these languages who actually perform the Bible translation day-by-day, verse-by-verse.
Oji-Cree mother tongue translators Zipporah and Jessie at work
These precious individuals speak their mother tongue, their heart language, and with some help from us translate the Word of God into the indigenous language of their community and family. Linguists, consultants, Bible Translation facilitators and others (like us) work along side mother tongue translators–we learn their language, we help them understand what the Bible means, and we equip them to make the best translation they can into their own language.
What is a Mother Tongue Translator Workshop?
While most of the work of Bible translation happens in the mother tongue translators’ home community, we conduct workshops to bring together many mother tongue translators from several communities. That’s what we did in Guelph this April.
SIL International Translation consultant Steve Kempf teaching about Old Testament sacrifice
At workshops like this, the mother tongue translators can benefit by learning from a wide range of facilitators who serve on staff and come to bring their experience and expertise, helping each translation team with their own unique challenges.
Bible Society translation consultant Ruth Heeg teaching translation basics
They can also learn about new tools, materials and media that can help them bring the message of God’s love in their own language to a wider range of people in their own communities.
Colin Suggett demonstrates a talking “Scripture App” with audio
Martin Reed helps participants plan the future of their language
We usually think of the Bible in a “book” when we talk about Bible translation, but the Word of God is living and active, and is a vast story of God’s love for and redemption of every people, language and nation. At this workshop, participants were also trained to craft the story of the Bible in their own language and tell these stories orally.
Meg Billingsley helps the participants learn the story of Adam & Eve
Matt Windsor helps the Oji-Cree team craft and record their oral Bible story
Even more importantly, mother tongue translators interact with other mother tongue translators from other languages, learning how their shared experiences can be an encouragement to each other, and realizing that they are not alone doing their task of Bible Translation for their home community.
Speakers of Naskapi, Oji-Cree and Swampy Cree learning together
Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, the National Indigenous Bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada, addresses, encourages and prays for the participants
Why translate the Bible into minority First Nations languages?
God is doing a work in the hearts of speakers of indigenous languages across Canada. Their grandparents and great-grandparents were taught God’s message of love and grace during the past century and a half. Many of these learned the Word of God from books that were translated into languages that were not in their own their “mother tongue”, but sometimes some other language, such as a neighbouring dialect of Cree.
1863 translation of the Bible in Western Cree
Many of the First Nations mother tongue translators that we work with love Jesus. They also love their communities and they love their traditional languages that they learned from their parents and grandparents. Now, God has given them the desire to pass on their faith to their own children and grandchildren, along with their precious language which is such a vital part of their culture.
The history of relations between the First Peoples of this land and non-indigenous people have been sometimes strained and difficult. Practices of the newcomers and policies of our governments often resulted in the tragic loss of their traditional languages. Besides providing access to God’s message of love in their own language, the First Nations Bible translation movement also gives speakers of these languages the resources they need to make their languages sustainable and even to flourish.
God has been using these MTT workshops to train, equip and encourage mother tongue translators with the skills and capacity they desire to see their vision and realized.
Thank you for your prayers for this one. They were answered in wonderful ways.
Serving with you, Bill & Norma Jean
Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald
“Mother tongue Bible translation is the most important thing you can be involved in for your community. It is really saving lives. It is hope that we give to our children and our grandchildren and great-grand children. The Holy Spirit assists you in your work of translation because it results in praise to God.
“The Word of God must become living and real in the languages of our communities. It is a part of our preparation of the coming of Christ: Bible translation in your local languages has a role in God’s plan for the universe. So, it is vital on a physical level but also on an spiritual and eternal level as well.”
–from the address by the Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Bishop, to the participants at the 2018 First Nations Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) workshop, Tuesday, 17 April 2018, Guelph, Ontario.
Next week, the Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) workshop for First Nations Bible translators will be held in Guelph, Ontario (April 15-20).
What are these workshops for? They are a response to the request from First Nations church leaders and community members themselves, to bring together people from different related language communities, creating a safe environment for mutual encouragement, and equipping their own community members and speakers of their languages to more adequately handle the complex task of Bible translation.
Participants are guided to work together at the 2017 MTT Workshop
The program this year is multi-tracked to accommodate both beginner and more experienced translators.
We are also planning a program that includes:
Oral Bible Storytelling:
This year, besides the usual modules covering translation principles, we are also pleased to announce that there will be an extended focus on Oral Storying. First Nations culture places a high value on storytelling, and this approach ties together the Stories of our Creator and His love for His People with the traditional First Nations practice of passing stories to the next generation orally in their heart language. These story modules will be facilitated by Rod & Liesel Bartlett.
Old Testament Sacrificial System:
This year, guest instructor Steve Kempf is introducing the topic of sacrifice in the Old Testament, in particular, the key terms for each of the five main sacrifices as well as how the sacrificial system worked. He is also presenting about the Day of Atonement and its significance as perhaps the most holy day in the Israelite sacrificial system. There are a lot of key terms here that extend throughout the Old Testament which help us to understand the significance of the death of Jesus Christ.
Participatory Methods and the Future of Our Language:
Another guest instructor, Carletta Lahn will continue applying the theme of participatory methods to grassroots local indigenous language program planning to help with the maintenance and sustainability of these threatened mother tongues.
Pray that all these who come will experience God’s anointing, protection and provision as they travel from near and far and serve First Nations language communities.
Participants in 2017 discover how and where their own language is used.
Thank you for your prayers for the staff, participants and the program of the upcoming 2018 workshop.
Also remember those traveling from long distances, as they pack and plan their trips this week. Our next message with prayer requests will be from the workshop site next week.