Northern Translation Brief: The “Whole” Bible in Naskapi

What is the “Whole” Bible in Naskapi?

This summer, July 2020, we helped the Naskapi Development Corporation produce and print this book that contains all the Scripture translated into Naskapi so far.

The “Whole” Bible in Naskapi

But the word “Whole” is in quotes for a reason.

In 1978, Naskapi leadership presented a brief to the Quebec government requesting assistance in economic and language development. One result of this was the formation of the Naskapi Development Corporation (NDC), the local Naskapi entity mandated with engaging in the language development work that has resulted in the translation of the Bible into Naskapi.


The Naskapi Bible Translation Project became a core component of the Language and Culture sector of the NDC in 1993. That is the year when work began on a series books in Naskapi that were based on the life of Christ in the Gospels: the Walking With Jesus series. This project made almost 450 verses of the Bible available in the Naskapi language for the first time.

The six-volume “Walking With Jesus” books were the first books ever published in the Naskapi language, containing Scripture portions from the Gospels.

Since these humble beginnings, the translation team continued to make steady progress on this huge task. For several years in the 1990s and early 2000s, the focus was on (mainly) the Sunday Lectionary readings used in the Naskapi church. Selections from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Epistles and the Gospels were translated each week, printed as “church bulletins” and used in church. In time, this process gave us almost 5000 verses of the Bible.

For many years the Sunday Lectionary readings in Naskapi were distributed each week and used in the church services.

The original Naskapi Translation Committee decided to begin translation in earnest with the Old Testament book of Genesis in the mid 1990s, so that work added even more verses.
Our focus shifted to a translation of the entire Gospel of Luke around the year 2000, and then to the entire New Testament, which was completed and published in 2007, bringing the total number of Bible verses in Naskapi to nearly 10,000

Lana Martens, a member of Wycliffe Bible Translators assigned to the Naskapi project in the 1970s, attended the dedication of the Naskapi New Testament on September 16, 2007 in Kawawachikamach.

When the book of Genesis was completed, published and dedicated in 2013, the amount of available Naskapi Scriptures went up to about 12,000 verses.

The late elder Joseph Guanish, one of the main visionaries who established the Naskapi Bible Translation as a core project of the Naskapi Development Corporation, seeing his vision being realized at the dedication of Naskapi Genesis on February 17, 2013 in Kawawachikamach.

In that same year, the NDC Board of Directors decided to increase the capacity of the translation department in order to address ongoing Naskapi language development needs. They recruited and hired four new young translators to be trained and mentored. After an apprenticeship period, these four new “Naskapi Language Specialists” began work on some of the major Old Testament historical books and Wisdom literature that had been requested by members of the Naskapi population and the elders. This included the beginnings of the books of Job, First & Second Samuel, First Kings, Joshua, Judges and Esther. During the next few years, considerable progress was made completing the first draft of much of these books.

four new “Naskapi Language Specialists” in April 2013, in their initial training stage.

The cohort of Naskapi Language Specialists has changed (and reduced) in the intervening years. In spite of this, with the help of visiting linguistics interns (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019) and our facilitating support, more and more translated Scripture has been made accessible to the Naskapi language community each year.


The translation department also completed and dedicated the entire book of Psalms, the longest book in the Bible, on March 24th 2019. This year they are completing the important book of Exodus, which as of mid-2020 brings us to a grand total of 13,846 verses in Naskapi.

Psalms: The Book of Praises in Naskapi, dedicated and presented at the Naskapi church, in March 2019.

The published works so far (New Testament, Genesis, Psalms, Exodus and the Sunday Lectionary Readings) are all checked and approved. The published work represents about 44% of the whole Bible. But all together these translations are found in seven separate printed books. This makes it somewhat complicated to look up and study verses in the Bible where ever they may occur.


This present volume is an attempt to put all the translated Naskapi Scriptures all in one place, and to also include all the translation “work in progress” as well–that is, all of the books and chapters that exist in “first draft” at least, and still may have several checking stages to go before they are approved for publication. When we collected all of the Scripture available into this one printed book, we now have a total of 17,393 verses, or about 56% of the 31,102 verses of the Bible here in this book in Naskapi.

The Naskapi “Whole” Bible open to the book of Psalms.

This book is arranged like a standard Bible, with all the books and chapters included. When there are verses not yet translated into Naskapi, we have included them in this book anyway, with the chapter and verse numbers showing which parts of the Bible still are not yet available in Naskapi. We have also indicated all those passages that are still a “work in progress” by setting the text in gray. Here’s how that looks in a sample of the pages from the book of Isaiah:

Typical page layout showing checked and approved passages, portions still in “first draft”, and verses not yet translated.

Our Naskapi translation undergoes several stages that ensure naturalness, accuracy, clarity and acceptability. Our translators study the background, commentaries and several English translations first, in order to determine the meaning of the stories before their beginning their attempts at a Naskapi “first draft”.

Naskapi translators Amanda and Ruby work to determine the meaning of a passage.

After the first draft of several chapters of a book is complete, these chapters are read through, out loud by the entire translation team for the important “team checking” stage. As a group the translation team suggests changes to make the first draft clearer or more natural.
Then the draft is “back translated” into English again. This way, by comparing the original with the English back translation, the team can verify the accuracy of their translation. This back translation also provides a way for the international translation consultant to review the translation with the translator, to ensure exegetical correctness, and to assist with the ongoing professional development of our Naskapi translators.
Finally, after any revisions are made following the translation consultant’s suggestions, the text receives provisional approval for publication. Still it is also completely read through again out loud with community members and elders, who help our team refine Naskapi stylistic and contemporary use. This is the “community checking” stage, ensuring the acceptability of the translation by Naskapi community members.
After all of these stages are completed, then the book is approved for publication.

The “Whole” Bible in Naskapi–with gaps and “work-in-progress”.

This 2020 edition of the “Whole” Bible in Naskapi contains all the Naskapi translation available today in all stages of translation. It also provides us with a graphic and tangible representation of just how much of the translation task remains to be done.
This book can serve as a motivational and inspirational tool for the Naskapi language specialists, the translation team and the Naskapi community.

Also, this book provides Naskapi readers with a single place to look up any Bible verse that is available in their own language.

We so appreciate your prayers for us and the Naskapi team through the many years of work that has brought us to this place, with a significant amount of the message of God now accessible in the Naskapi language.


And we ask that you please continue to pray for the Naskapi translation team and the NDC and Naskapi church leadership as they consider what God would have them do going forward to bring this project to completion.

Serving with you–and with them, Bill & Norma Jean

This book is being distributed by the Naskapi Development Corporation in Kawawachikamach, and is also available to the general public for purchase online here: lulu.com

Northern Translation Brief 10Jul2020

Our Dear Partners,

Thank you for your prayers and your interest in First Nations Bible Translation. Our indigenous partners in isolated northern communities have been under unusual stress and hardship since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Because of the living conditions in these communities, the limited access and medical facilities, First Nations people are at particularly high risk from infection from this coronavirus disease.

Most communities across northern Canada have restricted all travel in and out.

Algonquian languages in the “Cree subgroup”

Naskapi translation

We had a half dozen Naskapi participants: translators, educators and church lay-readers signed up for our translator workshop this spring, but as we told you last time, it had to be cancelled, just like everything else in 2020.

The Naskapi translation office and school and church also closed for most of April and May, and opened in just a limited way in June.

We have just begun to work again with members of the team who have returned, connecting over video calls on the computer, but we are afraid that it will be a slow restart.

However, through the springtime and into the summer, Bill has been steadily working on formatting, compositing and proofreading some new Naskapi publications that we will be able to share about in the next Translation Brief. He is also coordinating the production of an exciting new Naskapi language education tool, an “online Naskapi language course”. We hope to have that ready by the end of the summer, and we will tell you all about it then.

New children in our care

Last time we wrote to you we had to say good bye to Emma and Joseph, a sibling group that was in our care until Bill returned across the border from the US. Because of Covid-19 quarantine regulations, they had to be placed in another foster home.

But in late May we were asked to look after Charlotte (age 5). She is part of a sibling group too, but her brother and sisters are in care in other foster homes.

Charlotte celebrating on Canada Day in the morning
(The children’s faces have been intentionally blurred to protect their privacy)

A week later the Children’s Aid Society called with an emergency request to take Bella (age 3) into our home. Both children have some special needs, and Bella has global developmental delays. But both girls have been gradually settling into a routine in our home and getting the care that they need. We can’t say how long either will be with us, but we are prepared to look after them as long as they need us.

Bella at breakfast

God has blessed us with the capacity to help these two children, and we feel privileged to be called to serve Him in this way.

Charlotte and Bella in their “happy place”, busy outside


Thank you again for your prayers with us for:

  1. Naskapi Bible Translation: restarting the team in Covid-19, good working relationships, and the delivery and distribution of the new Scripture products we have prepared. Remember team members Ruby and Silas.
  2. Bella and Charlotte: as we provide them with the special care that they need during this time of separation from their families.
  3. The other language teams we supervise: Matthew & Caitlin Windsor in the Oji-Cree project at Kingfisher Lake, Ontario; and Alice & Martin Reed in the Swampy Cree project near Thompson, Manitoba. Click on their names above to see their recent newsletters.

Gratefully serving with you,
Bill & Norma Jean

PS: We may be able to give you more details on any of these requests if you ask us off-line (by email). You may email us in two places:
For Bill: bill_jancewicz@sil.org
For Norma Jean: normajean_jancewicz@sil.org

Read and Listen to the Bible in Naskapi

The Naskapi Bible Translation Project project does more than make books.

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).

The Naskapi Bible Translation Project seeks to make this message as accessible as possible to the people for whom Naskapi is their traditional language–even when they cannot read it so well themselves.

Our late elder Joseph Guanish saw to it that not only was the message of God translated into his own language, but he also spent many long hours reading it to record it for the “Lamp to my Feet” Naskapi Radio Bible Time episodes. Many of us look forward to that program each day on the radio.

But now thanks to the Internet we can bring both the book and the voice together and follow along on our tablets, phones and computers, any time we want.

The Scripture Earth website provides access to many versions of the Bible including Naskapi.
http://www.scriptureearth.org
Click or tap on Language and type in “Naskapi”.

Next, click or tap on the word Naskapi under the “Language Name” to open a page with all the Naskapi Scripture resources that have been prepared by the Naskapi Development Corporation.At “The Bible in Naskapi” resource screen, choose Text with audio: and pick a book of the New Testament. It starts with “Matthew 1:1” automatically, but that’s just a list of names and not a real interesting place to begin. We suggest choosing “John” or “Luke” to start with if this is your first time.
You can choose one of these by tapping or clicking the name of the book (Matthew) and choosing another from the drop down list.

Once you have chosen your book and chapter that you want to read, look at the bottom of the page for the audio controls and click or tap the “play” button (triangle).
Be sure that your volume is turned up on your phone, iPad or computer, and listen as you hear the late Elder Joseph Guanish read the Naskapi Bible to you.
You can follow along with the yellow highlighting that will show the words of the verse that are being read.

You can pause the playing at any time by tapping or clicking the “pause” button (two parallel lines) in the audio controls.
When you click or tap someplace else on the page, you will hear Joseph Guanish read the verse that you tapped on.


Try it now, and then show it to someone else on your phone or tablet. Here’s a link that will take you right into the Naskapi New Testament:

https://scriptureearth.org/data/nsk/sab/nsk-44-JHN-003.html

(This link brings you to the Gospel of John, chapter 3–but from there you can choose any book and chapter in the whole Naskapi New Testament, by tapping or clicking on the book name at the top of the page).

It’s the message from God for the people from Kawawachikamach.

Northern Translation Brief: 22Jan2020

Our Dear Partners,

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

David at his home Bible study with the late Sandy Nattawappio

God’s Word at Work

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


They arrived in the community just before Christmas.

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your part in this.

Serving with you,
Bill & Norma Jean

A Whale Hunt and other stories

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

Naskapi Language Literacy

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

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

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

The Naskapi Legends and Stories Project

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

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

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

Some Naskapi History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Naskapi Storytelling

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

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

John Peastitute

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

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

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

Recording the stories

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

Cover of Savard’s book

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

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

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

From Tapes to Books

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

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

Alma & Phil at work (1999)

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

Literary translation process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The John Peastitute story series

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

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

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

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

The Naskapi reading section of the Wolverine book

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

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

English translation section from the Giant Eagle book

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

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

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

Online Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Naskapi History by Naskapi People

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

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

How to get the books

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

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

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

Naskapi Development Corporation “Storefront” online bookstore

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

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

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

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

Three editions of the Whale Hunt volume

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

The first six titles in the Naskapi Legends and Stories Project

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

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

References and recommended further reading:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Northern Translation Brief: 18Nov2019

Our Dear Partners,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serving you with joy,

Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz

 

Northern Translation Brief: 18Oct2019

Our Dear Partners,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Serving with you, Bill & Norma Jean

 

 

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

Our Dear Partners,

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

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


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

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

–Psalm 119:9-11–


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

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

Psalms books at the front of the church on Dedication Day

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

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

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

Serving with you, Bill & Norma Jean

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

Prayers of dedication for the new books

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

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

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

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

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

 

Christmas 2018

Our dear friends and family,

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.

–Isaiah 40:29.

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.

Serving with you,
Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz

Northern Translation Brief: 23Oct2018

Our Dear Partners,

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.

Thank you for your prayers for us!

Serving with you,
Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz