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: Fall 2016 Partnership Tour Summary

Our Dear Partners,

This Translation Brief is all about all of YOU. God is at work bringing His message of hope and love to First Nations language communities across Canada. He was pleased to bring YOU into our lives as part of our team, as we join the Lord in this work in Bible Translation!

You will have noticed that most of our other Translation Brief reports have to do with our own vision to provide better access to God’s Word for Naskapi, Innu, Cree, and Oji-Cree speakers, and the activities that God has been pleased to invite us to share in, along side these indigenous Christians. Scroll back to any previous post, and you will read about our travels and our activities to help bring vernacular, local language scriptures to these communities.

But in this post, we want to talk about YOU and how encouraged we are having traveled and connected with so many of YOU who have prayed for us, given sacrificially over the years, and who have stood beside us in this work since the beginning. Any good that was done–bringing God’s hope and healing through His Word in the lives and communities of First Nations people over the years–was accomplished by His grace through YOU and your faithful partnership.

And we are grateful to you who have communicated this to us in so many encouraging and generous ways during our November 2016 Partnership Tour.

We have been on the road for most of the month of November, traveling to supporting churches and making home visits, sharing how YOU continue to play a vital role in bringing God’s Word to the First Nations.

Simcoe, Ontario–October 30

Immanuel Christian Reformed Church

Immanuel Christian Reformed Church

We have been welcomed into fellowship at Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Simcoe Ontario since we moved to this area last year. We have been encouraged by their vision to be fully devoted to Christ-centered lives, following His love, life and service. The Sunday before starting out on our trip we shared at Immanuel church about how God is at work through us in Bible Translation for First Nations in the north. We are encouraged to see their eagerness to participate in this work with us, and we already benefit from the prayers of Al & Betty, Mark & Elly, Brian & Jane, Pastor Jeff and many, many others.

Sutton, Vermont–November 6

Sutton Freewill Baptist Church

Sutton Freewill Baptist Church

Ever since the winter of 1987, even before we moved to the Naskapi community in Kawawachikamach, the congregation of Sutton Freewill Baptist Church has shared in our Bible Translation ministry. It was a joy to be back with Ruth, Lynn & Don, Laurel & Reg, Ron, Pastor Mark & Patrice, and to meet some new friends as well.

Norwich, Connecticut–November 7, 8, 10

Norwich Alliance Church

Norwich Alliance Church

The Norwich Alliance Church has been our “home” church and we were privileged during this trip to make some home-visits, since we were not able to be there on a Sunday. Also, several of our Norwich Alliance friends have moved on to serve in ministry or to fellowship in other churches near and far–so our partners are found all over. Still, while in Norwich it was a joy to meet with the Men’s Wednesday Morning prayer group: Mike, Rennie, Larry, Dave and Pastor Chuck. We also enjoyed sharing lunch with Shirley, dinner with Olive and her family: Ron & Anita, Mandy, and our new friend Nancy.

Derry, New Hampshire–November 9

Central Congregational Church

Central Congregational Church

Central Congregational Church in Derry has played a significant role in our work since our first connection with them through their Pastor Steve & Jan Misarski, back in the mid 1990s, and the Callan Home Fellowship group. They have not only faithfully prayed for us and supported the work financially, they also sent at team to Schefferville to help us rebuild our house there in 1996, joined by others from Norwich Alliance. This personal level of assistance truly connected them with our work in the Naskapi community. On Wednesday, November 9, Central Church missions committee hosted a pot-luck dinner gathering where we were able to report with joy all the things that God is accomplishing through their partnership. It was wonderful to renew our friendship with Janet & Rahoul, Sue, Felicia & Ed, Josh, Jim and Pastor John.

Waterford, Connecticut–November 10

First Baptist Church of Waterford

First Baptist Church of Waterford

First Baptist Church of Waterford was one of the first churches to share in the financial support of the salary of our first paid translator, Silas, back in 1996. It has been a joy to us and an encouragement to the Naskapi translators to know about this important and generous investment, which continues to bear fruit. This church’s missions committee also hosted a delicious pot-luck supper on Thursday November 10, after which we reported what God is accomplishing in First Nations churches and languages thanks to their partnership with us. A large group of nearly fifty old friends and new celebrated with us, including Bob & Terry, Dave & Naomi, Bill and Pastor Dave, among many others.

Wynnewood, Pennsylvania–November 13

All Saints' Church

All Saints’ Church

All Saints’ Church in Wynnewood is a beautiful, traditional-style Episcopal (Anglican) church where our dear friend Eddy Rix is the rector and priest-in-charge. While still in seminary, Eddy came to serve as an intern at the Naskapi parish in Kawawachikamach, where we first became acquainted and God gave him a heart for First Nations ministry and the Naskapi people. He helped connect All Saints’ parish with our ministry in Bible Translation and we have been privileged to share our work with them over the past several years. After a beautiful service of worship (following the Book of Common Prayer and Hymnal, wonderful pipe organ and choir) we shared a report of all that God is doing through their support at Adult Forum. It was wonderful to once again enjoy the warm hospitality of Eddy & Sierra and their family at the rectory, and to fellowship with Dr. & Mrs. Robert Marvin, Mary & Kevin, Ed and Katie, and so many other old and new friends.

La Plata, Maryland–November 14

Amy Bray and Norma Jean

Amy Bray and Norma Jean

Not all of our visits were large groups. Some were very small and quiet, but very significant none the less. We enjoyed warm hospitality from Amy Bray, a dear friend and prayer-partner that we knew from our time in Norwich.

Clayton, North Carolina–November 15

Charlie & Pat Guarneri

Charlie & Pat Guarneri

Charlie & Pat Guarneri–more friends from Norwich Alliance Church who now live close to their extended family in North Carolina–welcomed us into their home and shared meals with us, inviting others in their family to come hear what God is doing to bring His word to First Nations languages in the north. Charlie & Pat were part of the high-school youth group that Norma Jean and I attended when we were each led to serve the Lord in Bible Translation work, before we were married (Charlie chaperoned our first “date” in 1975!)

Hilton Head, South Carolina–November 17

Fred & Kathy Berkheimer with NJ & Peggy

Fred & Kathy Berkheimer with NJ & Peggy

Fred & Kathy Berkheimer–are also dear friends from Norwich Alliance, and who have faithfully prayed, generously supported and encouraged us in our work for more than 30 years. We rendezvoused with them at their vacation spot on Hilton Head and spend the entire day in conversation and fellowship over meals and walks on the beach, reflecting on God’s faithfulness and the joy we have in the journey of serving Him together. It was a precious and refreshing time, and we are very grateful.

Clearwater, Florida–November 20

First Christian Church

First Christian Church

When Norma Jean was single and living in Florida (forty years ago) she attended First Christian Church in Clearwater, Florida. We were welcomed into their adult Sunday School and worship time on Sunday, November 20, where we were given the opportunity to share the good things that God is doing as He brings His Word into the languages of First Nations communities in the North.

Chatsworth, Georgia–November 22

Jerry & Sarah Barton

Jerry & Sarah Barton

What a joy to spend American Thanksgiving with our dear friends Jerry & Sarah Barton at their home in Chatsworth Georgia. Norma Jean and I were both mentored and discipled by them when we were in our teens (!!) and twenties, when they were the leaders of the Norwich Alliance Church youth group. Their godly example and influence on our lives helped to shape us and lead us into serving the Lord in full-time Bible translation ministry. God used them, as He continues to use all of YOU, to accomplish His mission in the world. We were also privileged to share with Danny, the pastor of their church, and their children Joe and Carla, and their granddaughter and great-grandchildren!

Westerville, Ohio–November 26

Virginia & Collin, Wycliffe Associates

Virginia & Collin, Wycliffe Associates

Wycliffe Associates is an organization of lay persons that serves Bible Translation activities in many ways. One way that it does this is to help Wycliffe members who are traveling with hospitality services, meals and lodging in their homes through the Wycliffe Associates Hospitality Roster. Thus we were able to meet Collin & Virginia in Westerville, Ohio on our way back home to Canada, where they provided us with meals, fellowship and a night in their guest room. We are grateful that in many ways exactly like this, God uses the gifts and resources that he has given to each of YOU to help bring His message of hope into the Heart Languages of people groups all around the world. Thank you for being part of God’s work.

Family–all along the way

In Connecticut, we also blessed to have some time with some of Norma Jean’s brothers and their wives: Tim & Joanne, Terry & Wanno, and to catch up with each others’ lives.

TIm & Joanne Kenney

Tim & Joanne Kenney

Terry & Wanno Kenney

Terry & Wanno Kenney

We also saw our daughter Elizabeth with her husband Eric, and Bill’s mom Martha.

With Elizabeth & Eric

With Elizabeth & Eric

Elizabeth at 30; Bill at 60; Martha at 90

Martha at 90; Bill at 60; Elizabeth at 30

In Baltimore we stopped to see our son Ben and his wife Tamika, and our grandchildren Nya and Arion.

Nya, Tamika, Ben and Arion

Nya, Tamika, Ben and Arion

In Florida we stayed with Norma Jean’s sister Chris and her husband George, and were able to see some of their children and grandchildren as well.

Chris and Norma Jean

Chris and Norma Jean

We also realize that there are many of YOU who receive this report who we were unable to see along the way, either because of time or distance. We want you to know that YOU are also an encouragement to us, and that your partnership is vital to the work that God is doing through our lives.

We are so grateful for all of your prayers, and for God’s provision and safety through the four weeks of travel and over 4000 highway miles.

Serving with YOU,

Bill and Norma Jean

fall-2016-trip2

 

 

 

 

Northern Translation Brief: Mushuau Innu Language Project

Our Dear Partners,

In our previous Translation Briefs, we promised to spend some time going deeper into each of the “priorities” identified in the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative.

Naskapi & Mushuau MapThis time, we would like to tell you about the Mushuau Innu language project. The Mushuau Innu and the Naskapi people are both descended from the nomadic caribou hunters who lived in the barren ground of northern Quebec and Labrador. They call their language Mushuau Innu aimun: Mushuau means ‘barren ground’, Innu means ‘person’ and aimun means ‘word’ or ‘language’.

1886_FortChimoVisitors_JRHBefore the beginning of the 20th century, there was no distinction between a “Naskapi” group and a “Mushuau Innu” group. Some were associated by family ties to the northern East Cree on Hudson’s Bay, and others were associated with the Montagnais (Innu) of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and central Labrador. But their nomadic lifestyle and dependence upon caribou was what made them a distinct people. Their language was related to both of these other people-groups, but had a core of features that was different from their neighbours on the coasts.

1903_innu_tradersThen, around 1916, when the inland Hudson’s Bay Company post at Fort McKenzie was established, many of these hunters and their families began to center their activities around that post. About the same period, other hunters began to frequent other Hudson’s Bay Company posts, especially the Davis Inlet post on the coast of Labrador. Of course, many hunters and their families would visit either post, depending on the relative convenience of the location.

In the 1920s, during a period when caribou were not plentiful, many Innu people began spending their summers near the Davis Inlet Hudson’s Bay Company post, because of the accessibility to food and trade goods.

hauling freightBy the mid 1940s, many of the western group that later came to be known as “Naskapi”, were working for the Company hauling cargo between Fort Chimo and Fort McKenzie.

By the 1950s, the Fort Chimo group moved to the Schefferville area permanently. The Davis Inlet group, having been moved by the Newfoundland government to Nutak 170 kilometers up the Labrador coast, decided to return on their own to Iluikoyak Island near the Davis Inlet Hudson’s Bay post, and in the 1960s were settled permanently in the Davis Inlet community, known as Utshimassits by the Innu.

Contrasting Naskapi and Mushuau Innu

The Mushuau Innu community and the Naskapi community, having started out as virtually the same people-group, over the past half-century have diverged into two distinct communities:

St. John's Anglican Church, Kawawachikamach

St. John’s Anglican Church, Kawawachikamach

The Naskapi settled inland, in the province of Quebec, and maintained ties with the Cree near Hudson’s Bay. The Mushuau Innu settled on the coast, in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and maintained ties with the Montagnais (Innu) in central Labrador and the Lower North Shore.

The Naskapi received their Christian teaching from Anglican clergy and has a church that is part of the Anglican diocese of Quebec. The Mushuau Innu received their Christian teaching from Roman Catholic clergy and their St. Anne Tshukuminu church is part of the Catholic diocese of Cornerbrook and Labrador.

St. Anne Tshukuminu Catholic Church, Natuashish

St. Anne Tshukuminu Catholic Church, Natuashish

The Naskapi read and write their language in a distinctive local variety of Cree syllabics, (like this: ᓇᔅᑲᐱ ᐃᔪᐤ ᐃᔨᒧᐅᓐ) very similar to the writing system used by the Northern dialect of East Cree. The Mushuau Innu read and write their language in a local variety of the emerging standard Innu spelling system (formerly referred to as Montagnais, like this: Tshishe-Manitu e ui kueshkatishit).

The Naskapi signed the Northeastern Quebec Agreement (NEQA) in the late 1970s, which enabled them to build their own new community of Kawawachikamach in 1983. The Mushuau Innu continued to struggled until the end of the century in difficult living conditions, and were finally provided with the new community of Natuashish in 2003.

Finally and significantly, the Naskapi have the New Testament in their own language, published in 2007, and a team of trained and experienced mother-tongue translators and Naskapi-speaking elementary school teachers, and ongoing work in language development and ongoing Old Testament translation. The Mushuau Innu do not (yet) have these things in their language.

Classroom Assistant Workshops

September 2011 visit to Natuashish

September 2011 visit to Natuashish

Over the past eight years, we have made several visits to the Mushuau Innu community, often bringing along some of the Naskapi language team to inspire and motivate Mushuau Innu speakers and community members. During these visits we and our Naskapi friends have met with educators, clergy, community leadership and resource persons, sharing our vision and encouragement for increased Mushuau Innu language development, and the central place that mother-tongue literacy and scripture translation can have for Natuashish as it has for Kawawachikamach.

September 2013 visit to Natuashish

September 2013 visit to Natuashish

Norma Jean and I have been invited back each year for the past four years by the Innu School Board to conduct workshops for the Innu-speaking classroom assistants. There are no Mushuau Innu speakers yet who have the training, certification or qualifications to be classroom teachers, so the role of teacher in all the grade levels is filled by English-speaking professional teachers engaged from outside the community. But because many of the younger Innu children begin their schooling with little knowledge of English, the school hires classroom assistants to act as interpreters in the primary and elementary grades. These persons are uniquely positioned to teach the basics of literacy skills in their mother tongue, if they are provided with some guidance and access to Innu-language materials. Many Innu classroom assistants do not have any post-secondary training–their primary asset is that they are speakers of the children’s first language. Showing them some basic teaching skills can begin to equip them to lead the children into learning.

IMG_9083This Feburary 2015 we were back in the Natuashish community on the invitation of the school board to conduct another workshop for the classroom assistants. Extreme cold and other setbacks rendered the Mushuau Innu school building unusable when the heating system failed. Nevertheless, we were able to make arrangements to secure a meeting space in the Health Services building across the street from the school, and we facilitated daily workshops with a group of nearly a dozen Innu classroom assistants.

IMG_9043IMG_9042Norma Jean covered strategies for teaching activities that could be conducted in Innu-aimun, following the model and curriculum of the English classroom teacher. The yearly cycle of Innu traditional cultural activities were proposed as a framework for teaching Innu language topics. She showed how using this topical format could cover many language competencies and generate learning activities for each grade level.

IMG_9044Bill prepared an abridged version of the Innu Dictionary adjusted to meet the needs of the Mushuau Innu speakers, and installed a digital version on the participants’ laptops. He also demonstrated simple techniques for accessing and using Innu language materials on their computers, and got them started on creating their own Mushuau Innu materials for classroom use.

We were both careful to be sensitive and listen to the participants each day and adjusted our workshop topics so that we would meet the particular needs that the Innu classroom assistants expressed to us.

IMG_9076When the workshop was over and in the evenings we were able to visit in some of the homes, meet with leaders and caregivers, visit elders and attend church services.

IMG_9027IMG_9064Once again, we are struck with the deep spiritual and social needs in this community, and while we are grateful for the welcome we received to conduct this workshop, we are still convinced that developing their capacity to have access to God’s word in their own language is essential so that they can continue to take the needed steps toward healing the hurts in their community. A simple Internet search on “Davis Inlet” will turn up a litany of many of the challenges this community has faced over the years, but this post is not the place for that. This post contains hope that the Mushuau Innu people themselves can begin to find their healing in a deeper knowledge of their Creator as expressed through the medium of their own language, which is their identity and legacy.

IMG_9084IMG_9086We are so grateful for the privilege of being invited to join in this process at Natuashish. Please remember to pray for the classroom assistants, the school and the Innu community leaders and elders in the coming weeks and months as they move forward. Thank you so much for your prayers for us as we traveled all those miles and days to spend this time with them.

Pray too that the Lord of the Harvest will send workers who can facilitate a Mushuau Innu language project full-time for the long-term, just as the Naskapi have had.

We are happy, but once again pretty tired! Pray for us for a refreshing week back in British Columbia.

This is the fourth of a series of messages describing each of the “priorities” identified in the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative that began with the story of the Mason Cree Bible, the (Cuthand) Plains Cree Translation, and the Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree Translation project . If you missed those, you can still read about them here:

Mason Cree Bible

(Cuthand) Plains Cree Translation

Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree Translation

We encourage you to click on those links and review the stories, the Initiative and our vision and involvement in this work.

The (Cuthand) Plains Cree Translation, the Mason Cree Bible, the Oji-Cree Translation and the Mushuau Innu projects are just four of the “priorities” identified by the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative. Keep watching for other posts right here that will feature the other “priorities”, including the following components of our vision:

  • Mother-Tongue Translator (MTT) workshops
  • Naskapi Old Testament Translation project

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Links to donate for our financial support:
in Canada: http://www.wycliffe.ca/m?Jancewicz
in USA: https://www.wycliffe.org/partner/Jancewicz

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Northern Translation Brief: “The Bible in Plain Cree”

IMG_8541

Mason Cree Bible

In 1891, The Smithsonian Bureau of Ethnology Bulletin, (Vol 13, issue 1, U.S. Govt. Printing Office) listed only two “whole Bibles” in its “Bibliography of Algonquian Languages”. The Bible in Massachusetts by J. Eliot, and the Bible in Cree by W. Mason. The “Eliot Bible” was published in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1663, and it is the first Bible of any language to be printed in North America, and the first Native American language Bible.

Almost 200 years later, the Mason Bible in Cree was published in London by the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1862, and thus was the second Native American (First Nations) language Bible.

IMG_8543The overleaf on the 1908 (J.A. Mackay) revision of the Mason Cree Bible says “The Old Testament in Plain Cree”, which is a reference to the variety of the Cree language that is spoken “on the plain“, which in modern times is referred to as “Plains Cree”. Although the names “W. (William) Mason” and “J.A. (John Alexander) Mackay” are the individuals generally associated with this book, how this Bible actually came to be is an engaging and remarkable story:

James Evans Teaching Syllabics

James Evans Teaching Syllabics

James Evans, a Wesleyan Methodist missionary, developed a syllabic orthography for translating religious works into Ojibwe in the mid 1830s. In 1840 he was assigned to Norway House at the northern end of Lake Winnipeg in present-day Manitoba. He lost no time in adapting his syllabic writing system to Cree, the language of the First Nations peoples there. Read more about this remarkable writing system here (click). You will recall that this is also the writing system used for Naskapi, and many other Canadian languages.

Rev William Mason

William Mason

Evans was succeeded at the Norway House mission in 1843 by William Mason, who also married Sophia Thomas that same year. Sophia was the daughter of a Cree woman who was married to Hudson’s Bay Company Chief Factor Thomas Thomas. Sylvia Van Kirk (1983) writes:

“Sophia, the youngest daughter of former governor Thomas Thomas, had been placed in the care of the Church of England missionaries at an early age. An apt pupil and “a good pious girl”, she grew up a devout Christian. In 1843, she married the Reverend William Mason and, with her knowledge of Cree and her sincere interest in the welfare of the Indians, was a great help to her husband’s ministry at Norway House. Although she had a delicate constitution, Sophia was reputed to have devoted herself unceasingly to the operation of the Indian day school, visiting the sick, and translating hymns and scripture. Her lasting work was the production of a Cree Bible.

norway houseAnne Lindsay and Jennifer Brown (2009) continue Sophia’s story in an article by the Manitoba Historical Society:

“In 1858 the Masons moved to England where they oversaw printing of the New and Old Testament in Cree syllabics. These printed Cree syllabic texts were credited only to William Mason, which set off complaints from Native co-workers John Sinclair and the Reverend Henry Bird Steinhauer that they had contributed substantially to the work. William Mason’s own remarks suggest that his wife’s role in the translations was considerable. Sophia Thomas Mason, whose health had always been delicate, began to suffer pleurisy soon after arriving in England, and her work on translations was often stopped when she was overwhelmed by pain. In July 1861 she gave birth to her ninth child, and in the fall of that year the last of the Old Testament books was printed in Cree syllabics. On 10 October 1861 she died of tuberculosis.”

Sophia’s husband’s journal entry on her death stated, She has been spared to accomplish a great work, the Cree Bible; and to bear such a testimony for Jesus amongst the heathen, by the patience with which she suffered, and her zeal and persevering labours to make known the glorious Gospel of salvation…”

Joseph Lofthouse (1922) wrote, “The translation of the Bible into Cree was to a very large extent the work of Mrs. Mason, who was a native of Red River, had grown up amongst the Indians, and understood their language perfectly. It is the most idiomatic and by far the best translation that has ever been made in Cree. … Mrs. Mason on her dying bed finished the last chapter of this marvelous book, which has been such a blessing to the Indians of the whole north country.”

IMG_7782

Mason Cree Bible at St. Matthew’s Church, Kingfisher Lake, Ontario

It is this book that even today sits on the pulpits of hundreds of churches in First Nations communities across Canada, from Hudson’s Bay to the Rocky Mountains.

As you can see from the map, Cree territory covers a vast area and indeed includes several distinct language varieties. Linguistic work over the past half century has documented these varieties, and their characteristics are described in the Ethnologue. (click the link for more information). In many cases, the contemporary language variety spoken in these communities is quite different from the dialect of Cree used in Mason’s Bible. In these situations, previous generations of speakers learned to read the “Plains Cree” syllabics, and this practice developed a hierarchy of bi-literate “experts” who served as catechists, deacons, lay-readers and clergy, and these persons were able to teach others in their own language variety by translating from Mason’s Bible.

Mason Cree LanguagesOver the years, some of the linguists who study these languages have quipped that “God Speaks Cree”, referring to the special position that the Mason Cree Bible holds in the hearts of many speakers of different varieties of Cree, Ojibwe and Oji-Cree. Indeed the situation is similar to the way the King James Bible is held in high esteem in many Protestant churches, or even, in communities where the local language is very different from the Cree in the Mason Bible, the situation may be compared to the way the Latin language was revered in Catholic churches before Vatican II allowed services in the local languages.

The copy that Bill is working from here pictured belonged to a member of the congregation at St. Matthew’s Church in Kingfisher Lake, Ontario. You can see how it is well-worn from use, and many pages have detailed annotations by the user.

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Mason Cree Bible annotated in Oji-Cree

But because of a fundamental shift in the way literacy skills are passed on in these First Nations communities, many younger speakers of these Aboriginal languages are growing up not being able to understand the language in the Mason Cree Bible, making it necessary to produce contemporary translations and other language materials in the mother-tongue of the local community.

Nevertheless, the Mason Cree Bible still holds a place of honour and stature across Cree territory, and for that reason one of the priorities of the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative is to produce a modern, digital publication of the legacy Mason Cree Bible. The Bible Society arranged to have the text keyboarded in the early 1990s, and in recent months is reviewing it for consistency and standardization.

To do this, reviewers compare the keyboarded digital version (either in a printout or on-screen) to a printed copy of the 1908 Mackay revision. Since Bill can read the syllabic script, he is participating in the efforts to complete the review along with other Plains Cree speakers and facilitators. Here pictured is an example of the review process from the book of Leviticus.

Leviticus Chapter 5 at verse 11

Leviticus Chapter 5 at verse 11

Mason Cree digital version @ Leviticus 5:11

Mason Cree digital version @ Leviticus 5:11

Print version compared with digital version

Print version compared with digital version

Once the review work is done, not only will we be able to once again provide new and improved printed copies of this much-loved volume, but the text will also serve as an interactive, searchable digital resource that may be accessed on computers and handheld devices and also used as a reference work for contemporary Cree and Oji-Cree Bible translation work by translators for years to come.

This post has been an extended feature on the topic of just one of the “priorities” identified by the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative. Keep watching for other posts right that feature some of the other “priorities”, including the following components of the vision:

  • (Cuthand) Plains Cree Translation project
  • Oji-Cree Translation project
  • Mother-Tongue Translator (MTT) Workshops
  • Naskapi Old Testament Translation project
  • Mushuau Innu language project

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Please also remember our daughter Elizabeth who is in Labrador this week with the “Labrador Creative Arts Festival” (LCAF)
https://www.facebook.com/131612796945171/photos/a.594239127349200.1073741827.131612796945171/594248440681602/?type=1&fref=nf&pnref=story

References:

Lindsay, Anne, and Jennifer Brown.  2009. “Sophia Thomas Mason, Cree Translator”, in Memorable Manitobans, The Manitoba Historical Society. Accessed November 20, 2014.
http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/people/mason_st.shtml.

Lofthouse, Joseph. 1922. A Thousand Miles From a Post Office, or, Twenty Years’ Life and Travel in the Hudson’s Bay Regions. Toronto: Macmillan Co. of Canada.

Peel, Bruce. 2003. “Thomas, Sophia”, in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9, University of Toronto/Université Laval. Accessed November 20, 2014. http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/thomas_sophia_9E.html.

Van Kirk, Sylvia. 1983. Many Tender Ties: Women in Fur-Trade Society, 1670-1870. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

Northern Translation Brief 14Nov2014

Our Dear Partners,

You remember over the past few months our “briefs” have focused on our broadened vision and expanding activities in First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building across Canada. Starting from what God is doing with the Naskapi community in northern Quebec, He is leading us to other related language groups that also have a deep need to hear God speak to them in their languages as well. The Naskapi people are very closely related to people at a community in Labrador called “Natuashish”, where the Mushuau Innu language is spoken. We expected to be there during these weeks of November, but God had other plans for now. We may be able to be back there in February.

Our gathering with First Nations speakers and church stakeholders in Prince Albert in June identified several other priorities beyond our starting point with the Naskapi in northeast Canada, including the following:

  • The continued work on bringing the legacy (Mason) Plains Cree Bible to publication
  • The continued work on the contemporary (Cuthand) Plains Cree text through consultant checking and preparation for publication
  • The establishment of a Bible Translation / Language development project for Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree (and the surrounding Oji-Cree communities)
  • The establishment of a “Pan-Cree” Bible Translation initiative that would result in a cluster of several dialects working on the translation of the same passage(s) at once. This Cree cluster would get its start with a series of Mother-Tongue Translator (MTT) training workshops, targeted at training speakers identified from each participating community. The workshops would include training in Cree syllabics, use of computers, Cree language and literacy (reading and writing), and have as their goal the translation of some short but worthy and useful passage of Scripture for each community. These workshops would also include participation of translators from First Nations across Canada, including Naskapi, Innu and Oji-Cree.

Besides these four, our work still continues on other priorities that are connected to the Capacity-Building initiative:

  • The continued work on Naskapi Old Testament translation, scripture engagement, and translator training.
  • The continued connection and relationship-building with the Mushuau Innu language community in Labrador.

Cree Map July 2014a

Over our next few “Translation Briefs”, we would like to take you deeper into each one of these priorities; how God is at work in these areas and how you might continue to pray for these language groups. As we shared with our friends and supporters during our Partnership Development tour last month, that “multiplication” (not just “addition”) is one way these priorities will be met: So pray with us that the Lord of the Harvest will send additional team members to join us in this work. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “…There is a real opportunity here for great and worthwhile work…” (1 Corinthians 16:9).
So in the next few days, we’ll send out a Translation Brief about the Mason Plains Cree Bible.

Until then, thanks for your interest in our work and your prayers.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Please also remember our daughter Elizabeth who is going to Labrador this week and making a visit to the Natuashish Mushuau-Innu community with the “Labrador Creative Arts Festival” (LCAF)
https://www.facebook.com/131612796945171/photos/a.594239127349200.1073741827.131612796945171/594248440681602/?type=1&fref=nf&pnref=story

Northern Translation Brief 01Nov2014

Home from our Fall 2014 tour! (but not for long!)

Our Dear Partners,

We just rolled into the driveway at our Aldergrove Cottage in British Columbia after 10 weeks of being “on the road” for our Fall 2014 development trip. We praise God and thank you for your prayers for protection and provision covering 12,694 road miles. In the past six days alone, we covered 3291 miles–52+ hours in the drivers seat.

Other statistics? We visited three First Nations communities: 5 days in Kingfisher Lake, Ontario (Oji-Cree), 10 days in Kawawachikamach (Naskapi) and 3 days at the Mohegan Tribal Territory, in Connecticut (Algonquian Conference).

We visited 8 churches–several of these have prayed and supported us for many years–and we had the opportunity to share our work and vision at many of them, and Bill preached at two of them. We were welcomed into the homes of at least a dozen of our friends and supporters who graciously shared their hospitality with us. We also visited with many friends and relatives along the way, it was so good to see some who we had not seen in many years. We made some new friends, too. Some of you who receive this letter are among them.

We slept in some 29 different beds! (including sleeping-bags in our tent-camper, many guest rooms, and some hotel rooms, too.) Tonight, we sleep in our own bed after 69 nights away from home.

But not for long! One of our priority First Nations language communities is Natuashish, the Mushuau Innu language that is so closely related to Naskapi–the community on the north coast of Labrador. It is very difficult (and expensive) to get to this community. But God has made a way for us to get there this month: While we were in Kawawachikamach with the Naskapi, the leaders of the Innu School Board in Labrador contacted us and asked us if we would come to Labrador to conduct a professional development workshop for the Innu-speaking language teachers and teaching assistants. We will be doing follow up workshops in both Innu communities in Labrador, which means we will be in Natuashish from November 9-14. So we leave British Columbia (by plane, this time) late at night this Tuesday, November 4 and fly back on November 23. The Innu School board is paying for the entire cost of the trip for both of us, which is a real blessing and a great opportunity to serve again in our language development roles in these communities.Kawawa & Natuashish

We appreciate your prayers for us as we un-pack (and re-pack) and go back to the people in Natuashish who still do not have access to God’s word in their own language. Pray for open doors and open hearts.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Summer 2014 Newsletter (Part 2)

In the previous post, we told you about several priorities that came out of the Prince Albert meetings with First Nations language speakers and church leaders:

  1. Acceleration and continuation of the Plains Cree Bible Translation project.
  2. The establishment of a Bible Translation and language development project for Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree and the surrounding Oji-Cree communities.
  3. The establishment of a Bible translation initiative that would result in a cluster of several Cree dialects working on the translation of the same books. This cluster could get its start with a series of workshops to train Cree speakers from each participating community in Bible translation and literacy (reading and writing) which would also include Naskapi from Quebec, Oji-Cree from Ontario and Innu from Labrador.

Multiplication as a sustainable strategy
This brings us back to Jesus’ story that we referred to in the previous post. God has been using us primarily in the Naskapi community–and He is still doing a great work there. Now, we are being invited to grow from there, and use our Naskapi project experience as a model and training opportunity for other communities. Cree Map July 2014aTo fulfill this vision, we are asking God to send us six to eight new workers (that is, three or more new teams) who are willing to be trained and mentored to serve alongside the mother-tongue speakers of these languages in these new priority areas in Bible translation and language development.
While we are here in Langley BC, we are also connecting with CanIL, the Canadian Institute of Linguistics at Trinity Western University. CanIL is the Wycliffe and SIL International training partner in Canada. It is a good opportunity for us to present the language program needs to students that God has already been calling into this kind of ministry.
We will also be developing and deepening relationships with other First Nations language speakers and their communities that have been waiting for adequate access to the Scriptures in their mother tongue. At the same time, we will work on establishing learning opportunities so that more First Nations mother tongue speakers can become translators for their own languages, building their capacity for literacy and material development, while recruiting, guiding and mentoring the new language program workers God brings into these priority projects.

Fall development trip
This September-October we will be traveling to Cree, Oji-Cree and Naskapi communities to continue developing these relationships and to provide language and literacy training to Naskapi teachers and mother-tongue translators. We will also be meeting with Canadian Bible Society and First Nations church leaders to coordinate and support each others’ work on this initiative. Along the way, we also plan to visit with many of you who support our work with prayers and gifts to share our new and expanded vision and responsibility.
–To Be Concluded in Part 3

 

Northern Translation Brief: Redrawing the Map

Our dear partners and “followers” (*),

In the last post, I had a map with a plan of our meeting with some Cree language speakers and church leaders at Prince Albert for the “First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Gathering“. God is clearly still at work in these northern communities, and it became clear that the speakers of these languages do indeed want help from Wycliffe and the Bible Society with their Bible translation projects.

First Nations Capacity Building Map1aCheyenne and Marianne did come from the Naskapi community, and they shared effectively how God’s Word in their own language has deepened their relationship to Him. But one of the new things that we learned was the translation need in the “Severn Ojibwe” language. Look at the map where it says “Prince Albert”. Right under that sign are several isolated communities of Severn Ojibwe speakers, also known as “Oji-Cree”. Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, a speaker from the Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree community, shared her heart’s desire to see the Scriptures made available in her mother-tongue. Her plea, along with the other priority projects put forth by the group, are the beginning of an initiative to answer all the remaining First Nations Bible Translation needs in Canada.

See if you can find the new locations on the map that were missing from the first one:

unlabeled CNM mapWe meet again by Conference Call this week with the working group to plan our next steps towards these goals:

  1. Acceleration and continuation of the Plains Cree Bible Translation project.
  2. The establishment of a Bible Translation and language development project for Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree and the surrounding Oji-Cree communities.
  3. The establishment of a Bible translation initiative that would result in a cluster of several Cree dialects working on the translation of the same books. This cluster could get its start with a series of workshops to train Cree speakers from each participating community in Bible translation and literacy (reading and writing) which could also include Naskapi from Quebec, Oji-Cree from Ontario and Mushuau Innu from Labrador.

Also, be watching this space during the coming week for a serial version of our Summer Newsletter that was mailed out today.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

(*) I understand that people who do websites like this one, that some call “blogs”, also have “followers”. You may apply “partner” or “follower” to yourself as appropriate.

 

Translation Brief 11Nov2013 “FAQ”-2

Our dear partners,
This is the second follow-up to answer Frequently (F) Asked (A) Questions (Q). The response to “FAQ”-1 was so positive that we are thinking that this is the highlight of your week!

The question we get a LOT (especially once folks understand the answer to the first question) is:

(2) “So… what does Bill do […all day long…] ?”

The short answer is that he serves as Norma Jean’s “support staff” **.

But Bill also keeps pretty busy outside of those responsibilities as well. Trinity Western University (TWU), where Norma Jean is enrolled, is also the home of CanIL, a training partner of Wycliffe Bible Translators and the center for SIL training in Canada. Besides the opportunity to connect with and serve along side the staff at CanIL, Bill is also upgrading his skills by taking a class to use current computer software for applied linguistics–language documentation, dictionary-making, grammar writing and preparing literacy materials. So at least two days a week Bill goes to the campus with Norma Jean to attend his classes there.

at our desks4aBill is also involved in a Consultant Development program as part of Language Program Services for the Americas Area. He is completing assignments related to “Field Linguistics Specialist Certification”. In short, he is continuing to upgrade his linguistics skills to better serve the Bible translation needs of the minority language groups we serve, including Naskapi, Mushuau Innu, Cree and other related languages.
There are also the Old Testament Bible Translation projects that the Naskapi team is working on, which he facilitates from a distance by internet communication with the Naskapi language specialists in the Naskapi community in Quebec. Several projects are just beginning and some are about to come to completion: We’ll be sharing about these Naskapi publications in particular in the weeks to come.
Finally, and related to all of these, Bill is working on needed revisions to the Naskapi dictionary, moving the database to the current language documentation software, working on Naskapi literacy books, and training (via Skype) the Naskapi language specialists to use the translation tools.

As usual, if you have any further questions, feel free to send them to us. Maybe yours will be chosen for another “Frequently Asked Question” answered soon!
Thank you for sharing our vision for everyone to have access to God’s Word in the language of their hearts.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz

** “administrative assistant, driver, bodyguard, personal chef, APA guidelines resource, critic, editor, encourager”

at our desks7aat our desks1

Translation Brief 04Nov2013 “FAQ”-1

Our dear partners,

A few weeks back we sent out a newsletter [link] to everyone, and from the responses we got from many, it seemed to raise more questions than answers!

So I thought that it would be good to send out some answers to those questions most frequently asked. “FAQ” has become a regular feature on many websites, in an attempt to anticipate those questions (Q) that are most frequently (F) asked (A). Unlike such websites, we had not anticipated the many questions that were raised, but we will take this opportunity to answer those which occurred most frequently since that newsletter.

(1) “Why did you move to British Columbia?”map of 2013 travels west

Most questions like this one were expressions of surprise that we had moved at all! We apologize that we had not made this clearer in earlier messages. Last January [link] we mentioned Norma Jean’s plans to pursue graduate studies of her own to in mother-tongue and multi-lingual education, building on her experience and work with Naskapi and Innu. At that time, she had not yet been accepted into the program at Trinity Western University here in BC, so we were still waiting ourselves for that direction.

At the same time, our son Nicodemus was considering his own transfer to Trinity Western University after having completed two years at Three Rivers Community College in Connecticut. When both Norma Jean and Nicodemus were accepted, our plans started to become more clear.

In order to better serve the Bible translation and language development needs of Naskapi, Innu and other First Nations people groups across Canada, we have been encouraged by our Wycliffe field administration to continue our professional development which includes completing our graduate degrees. Bill accomplished this during five summers at SIL-UND, and earned his MA in linguistics. Norma Jean started her MA program in August here in British Columbia. The program Norma Jean is taking has components that help broaden her insight into language education for First Nations people, which she has already been involved in for several mother-tongue communities [link], [link]

It has also been a great opportunity to be here where we can connect with Nicodemus and encourage him in his own undergrad program.

Another answer to a “Frequently Asked Question” coming soon!

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz