Northern Translation Brief 06Nov2020

Our Dear Partners,

Even though we are still challenged by limited local Naskapi translation help in the community (see our last Northern Translation Brief for the details), we continue to work on the projects that we can do with what we have. Today we are pleased to report to you about the revision of the Naskapi Lectionary (Year B), 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 for several years to provide printed copies of the Scripture for the congregation each week.

A decade ago, it became clear 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).

Dedication of the First Edition of “Year A” Naskapi Sunday Lectionary in 2011

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.

Original versions of Year A (blue book) Year B (red book) Year C (green book)

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 2019, 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. One 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. All of these corrections needed to make their way into a new edition of the books.

So last fall we completely updated the book of readings for Year A, liturgical year 2019-2020. This fall we did the same thing for Year B, liturgical year 2020-2021, which begins with the First Sunday of Advent, coming this November 29, 2020.

The format of the new book is very similar to the previous books, but every Scripture reading 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. This set of revisions also have newly designed covers.

Bill completed the final composition and formatting for the books on October 21, 2020. By the end of that month 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 this week, on November 2nd 2020, and they are now on their way to Kawawachikamach.

Even though there have been disruptions in travel and shipping in the north, 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, November 29, 2020. 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

PS: Some ongoing prayer requests from last month (updates from our last Northern Translation Brief)

  • Pray that God will send willing and capable Naskapi persons to fill translation roles, so that their dream of completing the Bible in Naskapi can still be realized.
  • Pray that God continues to give us grace and stamina as we serve as foster parents for three small children: Charlotte (age 5), Bella (age 4) and now Remmy (age 3) who just came into our care a couple weeks ago.

Charlotte, Remmy & Bella at bedtime (image intentionally blurred for reasons of privacy and security)

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

Northern Translation Brief 03Mar2020

Our Dear Partners,

Today we would value your prayers for three major concerns that we are carrying right now:

  1. First Nations Translator Workshop
  2. Bill’s mom’s heath
  3. New children in our care

    Last year’s First Nations Translator Workshop

    2020 First Nations Translator Workshop

    We have been working hard preparing for this year’s First Nations Translator Workshop to be held in Guelph Ontario, Canada, this March 29 to April 3. There are a dozen staff members serving with us, preparing workshop sessions and presentations for an expected 15 or so indigenous participants from three or four different First Nations languages all across Northern Canada.

    Pray that God will bring the right people together and guide us to provide better access to His Message in their languages.

    Bill’s mom, Martha Jancewicz, feeding the chickadees this past September at Nico & Brooklyn’s wedding in British Columbia

    Bill’s mom and her health

    Bill’s mom, Martha Jancewicz, is 93 years old and has been extremely active and healthy her entire life. Just a few weeks ago she was suffering from a sore throat due to what she thought was a stubborn cold. After a few visits to the doctors last month we were all saddened to learn that she has been diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer in her lungs and throat. Just yesterday she had emergency surgery at Yale-New Haven hospital in Connecticut for a tracheotomy to restore her breathing. She will be there for the next week and we are all waiting for an update after a biopsy.

    Pray for her comfort, her spirit and for God’s peace and wisdom for all of the family during these difficult and uncertain days.

    Joseph (9-years-old) and his sister Emma (10-years-old)
    (Their faces in this picture are blurred intentionally to protect their privacy)

    New children in our care

    While we were traveling last month, the local Children’s Aid Society asked us to take in two children who needed a family resource home. Joseph and Emma have moved in last week and are a part of our family now for as long as they need a loving and safe home to be in. We are making school lunches and reading stories at bedtime and doing all the things that they need to be secure, in partnership with Children’s Aid.

    Pray that we continue to look to God for his strength, grace and wisdom as we learn to parent Emma and Joseph together.


    Thank you again for your prayers with us for:

    1. The Workshop
    2. Bill’s mom
    3. Joseph & Emma

    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)

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: 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

Northern Translation Brief: 2018 Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) Workshop

Our Dear Partners

We are so grateful for your prayers for a successful First Nations Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) Workshop that was held in Guelph, Ontario in April. God has answered your prayers in wonderful and encouraging ways! This was our fourth such workshop in as many years.

Speakers from three language communities came to this year’s workshop

What is a Mother Tongue Translator?

Even though we serve with a “Bible Translation” organization, we ourselves do not really translate the Bible ourselves: it is the fluent, “mother tongue” speakers of these languages who actually perform the Bible translation day-by-day, verse-by-verse.

Oji-Cree mother tongue translators Zipporah and Jessie at work

These precious individuals speak their mother tongue, their heart language, and with some help from us translate the Word of God into the indigenous language of their community and family. Linguists, consultants, Bible Translation facilitators and others (like us) work along side mother tongue translators–we learn their language, we help them understand what the Bible means, and we equip them to make the best translation they can into their own language.

What is a Mother Tongue Translator Workshop?

While most of the work of Bible translation happens in the mother tongue translators’ home community, we conduct workshops to bring together many mother tongue translators from several communities. That’s what we did in Guelph this April.

SIL International Translation consultant Steve Kempf teaching about Old Testament sacrifice

At workshops like this, the mother tongue translators can benefit by learning from a wide range of facilitators who serve on staff and come to bring their experience and expertise, helping each translation team with their own unique challenges.

Bible Society translation consultant Ruth Heeg teaching translation basics

They can also learn about new tools, materials and media that can help them bring the message of God’s love in their own language to a wider range of people in their own communities.

Colin Suggett demonstrates a talking “Scripture App” with audio

Martin Reed helps participants plan the future of their language

We usually think of the Bible in a “book” when we talk about Bible translation, but the Word of God is living and active, and is a vast story of God’s love for and redemption of every people, language and nation. At this workshop, participants were also trained to craft the story of the Bible in their own language and tell these stories orally.

Meg Billingsley helps the participants learn the story of Adam & Eve

Matt Windsor helps the Oji-Cree team craft and record their oral Bible story

Even more importantly, mother tongue translators interact with other mother tongue translators from other languages, learning how their shared experiences can be an encouragement to each other, and realizing that they are not alone doing their task of Bible Translation for their home community.

Speakers of Naskapi, Oji-Cree and Swampy Cree learning together

Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, the National Indigenous Bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada, addresses, encourages and prays for the participants

Why translate the Bible into minority First Nations languages?

God is doing a work in the hearts of speakers of indigenous languages across Canada. Their grandparents and great-grandparents were taught God’s message of love and grace during the past century and a half. Many of these learned the Word of God from books that were translated into languages that were not in their own their “mother tongue”, but sometimes some other language, such as a neighbouring dialect of Cree.

1863 translation of the Bible in Western Cree

Many of the First Nations mother tongue translators that we work with love Jesus. They also love their communities and they love their traditional languages that they learned from their parents and grandparents. Now, God has given them the desire to pass on their faith to their own children and grandchildren, along with their precious language which is such a vital part of their culture.

The history of relations between the First Peoples of this land and non-indigenous people have been sometimes strained and difficult. Practices of the newcomers and policies of our governments often resulted in the tragic loss of their traditional languages. Besides providing access to God’s message of love in their own language, the First Nations Bible translation movement also gives speakers of these languages the resources they need to make their languages sustainable and even to flourish.

God has been using these MTT workshops to train, equip and encourage mother tongue translators with the skills and capacity they desire to see their vision and realized.

Thank you for your prayers for this one. They were answered in wonderful ways.

Serving with you, Bill & Norma Jean

Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald

“Mother tongue Bible translation is the most important thing you can be involved in for your community. It is really saving lives. It is hope that we give to our children and our grandchildren and great-grand children. The Holy Spirit assists you in your work of translation because it results in praise to God.

 

“The Word of God must become living and real in the languages of our communities. It is a part of our preparation of the coming of Christ: Bible translation in your local languages has a role in God’s plan for the universe. So, it is vital on a physical level but also on an spiritual and eternal level as well.”

–from the address by the Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Bishop, to the participants at the 2018 First Nations Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) workshop, Tuesday, 17 April 2018, Guelph, Ontario.

More pictures from this year’s workshop:

 

 

Northern Translation Brief: Kingfisher Lake Translation Checking

Our Dear Partners,

In the complex task of translating the Bible, it is helpful for a translation team to break the process down into manageable and measurable steps. The new Oji-Cree translation team is working on the project chosen by their church and community–that is, the scripture verses contained in the weekly (Epistle and Gospel) lectionary readings used in Sunday Services.

For each passage, the translation team work through steps in order to ensure that the translation in their mother tongue is clear, accurate, natural and acceptable.

  • The first step is the “First Draft“, which includes learning what the original passage means and then expressing that meaning in the translator’s own words.
  • The second step is a “Team Check“, during which the translator reads her First Draft to the other Oji-Cree translators in the translation team, and the team offers suggestions, corrections, or advice. The translator then makes appropriate revisions.
  • The third step is a “Community Check“. The text is printed and distributed in a preliminary form that other members of the community can read (or be read to), and the translator receives feedback and suggestions from Oji-Cree speakers of different ages in the community. The translator again makes appropriate revisions.
  • The fourth step is a “Back Translation“. A team member who did not work on the translation reads the text without referring to the original source, and makes a translation back into English. This English language back translation can now be used to verify whether the translation is complete and accurate.

You can see a progress chart showing these steps at one of our previous posts Northern Translation Brief 05Oct2016.

After the team accomplishes these four steps, the passage is ready for step five, a checking session with a Translation Consultant. A translation consultant is a person trained in linguistics, cross-cultural studies, Biblical languages and content, along with in-depth experience working in minority-language translation programs in the field.

In January 2017, the New Oji-Cree Bible translation team had their first “Consultant Check”.

Travel to Kingfisher Lake

On Monday Morning, January 23, Norma Jean and I drove to Ruth Heeg’s house in Waterloo, Ontario, and her husband Dick drove us to the airport in Toronto. Ruth brings extensive translation experience in a lifetime career of Bible translation in Wycliffe and also as a translation consultant with the Bible Society.

We met up with Meg Billingsley at the airport. Meg is a “translation consultant-in-training” and is being mentored by Ruth. Meg also has had several years of field experience in translation projects for Plains Cree in Saskatchewan and Mik’maq in Nova Scotia. We all checked in at the airport and flew together to Thunder Bay, Ontario, and spent the night there.

Ruth Heeg and Meg Billingsley

On Tuesday Morning, January 24, we got a message from the airline that serves the remote First Nations communities in Northern Ontario (Wasaya) that there were weather delays, and that our plane would not leave Thunder Bay until mid afternoon. So we had breakfast and lunch together. We had planned to arrive in Kingfisher by 10:00 in the morning on Tuesday. That was not going to happen now.

Waiting in Sioux Lookout

After flying to Sioux Lookout in the afternoon, we got on the late plane to Kingfisher, but it was still snowing and foggy, and so after flying up and “over” Kingfisher, the pilot turned the plane around and we went back to Sioux. By now it was 8:30 PM. So we spent one extra night en-route at Sioux Lookout.

STILL WAITING

On Wednesday Morning, January 25, we got up early to go to the airport, and we were put on the “waiting list” for the morning flight up north, which was also cancelled by weather. Finally, they put us on the late flight in a bigger plane (a Dash-8) so all the folks who could not get north in the past few days could all go together. The only hitch was that we were told that our bags would follow later. We finally got in to Kingfisher Lake at about 8:30 PM on Wednesday night after spending both Tuesday and Wednesday at the airports.

Translation Checking

The translation team was all ready to work on Thursday morning, and so we all sat down, had our greetings, our prayers and we got started. The translation team agreed to also work on Saturday afternoon because of our time in travel. We let the translation team and Bishop Lydia set the schedule.

Planning the workshop

Working on the text

Ruth K, Zipporah and Jessie

Each day we would begin with devotions and a Bible reading in the Oji-Cree language, prayers and a (Cree) hymn, and then I would turn over the workshop session to Ruth and Meg. I first briefed the team on the purpose of a consultant check, and then Meg got right into it with the passages that she had prepared. The entire team worked together, with one team member (Jessie) handling the updates and revisions to the text and another (Zipporah) updating the back-translation. All of the team participated and answered Meg (and Ruth’s) questions.

Other Scripture Engagement Activities

Their former Bishop of the Keewatin Diocese, Rt. Rev. David Ashdown, came for the weekend for services in the community. He preached in all the services, and they were well attended. One of the major Sunday services (the “English” service, held in the afternoon) was held in the school gym, being larger, and it accommodated the “blessing of the school”. At this service, the new Oji-Cree translation of the Epistle and the Gospel was read in the local language, and the translation was well-received by the large Oji-Cree speaking congregation in attendance.

Bishop Ashdown and Bishop Lydia also performed a consecration service for the new chapel in the lower level of the Mission House. It was named the “Chapel of the Holy Elders”, being named in honour of the Oji-Cree elders who were instrumental in the early Christian life and self-determination of the diocese of Mishamikoweesh.

Mission House Chapel

Service of consecration

Reading the scriptures

Bishop Ashdown signing the new vestry book

Norma Jean and I then participated in the new Sunday School that the translation team from Mission House has set up, in anticipation of the trip that we have planned to work with the Oji-Cree Christian Education team on Vacation Bible School this July. We are hoping to bring some people from our home church in Simcoe, ON to assist at this, Lord willing.

Kingfisher Lake Sunday School

Parents helping their children

Sunday School crafts

God made colourful caterpillars

Norma Jean also led the translation team in the production of a scripture engagement project, a church banner with “Love One Another” (ᓵᑭᐦᐃᑎᔪᐠ in Oji-Cree) on it, from John 13:34. The team participated in the design and some of the sewing, but somewhat less than usual, so that they could give more time to the consultant checking with the translation consultants.

Planning the Future

On Friday, Norma Jean met with the translation team and the Sunday School team to talk about a summer youth activity, “Vacation Bible School”. The Oji-Cree team suggested that the topic could be the story of Creation from Genesis. Norma Jean would be working with the translation team in the months to come to prepare culturally-appropriate Sunday School and Christian Education curriculum that more closely corresponds to indigenous life in the north.

The team told us that they wanted to be sure that the Gospel was clearly presented throughout the week, so that the children had an opportunity to hear and respond to the good news about Jesus. The Oji-Cree team also said that any helpers from outside the community should not simply come up and conduct the Vacation Bible School themselves–but rather that the activity be used to train the Oji-Cree Sunday School teachers and staff to learn how to conduct and present a Vacation Bible School program. With this in mind, each of the activities would be presented in both the Oji-Cree language and English, with the Oji-Cree Sunday School teachers fully involved in all activities with the Kingfisher Lake children.

The dates that they proposed for this summer’s Vacation Bible School activity in Kingfisher Lake are July 17th to the 21st, just after the Dr. William Winter School.

On Saturday, we met to talk with Bishop Lydia who shared her ongoing vision for the Oji-Cree translation project, future plans, and the kinds of support and help that they would like from us. She said that she will be meeting with some of the church leaders in the area of her diocese (in northern Manitoba) that speak the Swampy Cree language about the possibility of having a similar translation project started in one of the Swampy Cree communities that she has spiritual leadership over. She suggested that “Split Lake” or one of the other communities near there might be a possibility.

Bishop Lydia asked Bill to help her with her diocesan website, and also help to expand the Oji-Cree translation project so that so that the team can work on the translation of other Bible- and worship-related materials (such as Prayer Books, Christian Education Materials and Hymnals) into the Oji-Cree language.

ISMM Diocese Website “under construction”

When we discussed the future, which included having Meg continue to check scripture as it becomes ready, the question of regular communication with the translation team came up. The team suggested setting up a private Oji-Cree Bible Translators “Facebook Group” to do this. This way Meg or any other member of the team may be able to call them all together using a Facebook message to the group, and then ask consultant questions either on Facebook Chat or Skype.

Oji-Cree Bible Translator’s Facebook Group

Wrapping up the Workshop

The weather cleared on Monday, January 30, and we continued to work all day as before, with Meg doing most of the checking sessions. Bill also presented a training module about key Biblical terms (we accumulated a number of new ones in Oji-Cree during the checking) and how to use the Paratext computer program to keep track of these.

Bill also set up a new work computer for their newest team member Saloma Sainnawap, and he did general computer maintenance and software upgrades on all the other team computers. He also looked after equipment and “technical details” in general while Meg (and Ruth) ran the checking sessions.

Ruth K, Zipporah, Jessie and Saloma

As a new translation consultant, Meg handled herself very well with the Oji-Cree team, being sensitive to their needs and their level of ability. They said that they would be eager to have her come back to continue work with them as the need arises, and we feel the same way!

Coming back home on Thursday February 2 we were delayed by about an hour at the Kingfisher Lake airstrip waiting for the plane to arrive, but they made up the time by transferring us quickly between planes in Sioux. The flight back to Toronto was fine, but Norma Jean’s bag was lost in the Pearson baggage handling area. It was delivered to our house the next day. Ruth’s husband Dick picked us up. We had a late supper, Meg got a ride home from the airport by a friend, and we got home to Windham Centre late at night on Thursday, after picking up our car at Ruth’s.

All in all, it went well, even after missing two days of work because of flight delays.
Thank you for your prayers and especially thanks to God for His work and word in the lives of the Oji-Cree people.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean

Northern Translation Brief 05Oct2016

Our Dear Partners,

Thank you for your prayers for us during the past several days: Norma Jean and I have been in Kingfisher Lake, northern Ontario with the Oji-Cree Bible Translation team, conducting an on-site workshop there. Since translating the very first verse of their translation project less than 18 months ago (read about that here: <link>), the team has completed 2478 verses of the Bible in first draft. Of these, 464 verses have been checked and reviewed by their entire team, and 404 verses are back-translated and ready for a consultant-check.

progress-chart-sept2016We began each day singing a hymn from the Cree hymnal together, and reading a devotional on the Oji-Cree scripture text that they would be “team-checking” or “back-translating” that day.

dscn2168The team learned and practiced preparing and formatting the printed Sunday scripture readings that are used in their church each week. They learned some more advanced skills in translating names, flora & fauna of the Bible and major Biblical terms using the computer database tools designed for Bible translators.

In a nutshell, we taught and practiced translation procedures that the Oji-Cree team asked us to teach and practice–giving them what they needed as they needed it.

Our travels up north here from down south was delayed by a day because the little plane could not land on the gravel strip at Kingfisher Lake last Tuesday morning in the fog. So after an unplanned stopover in Sioux Lookout, we came back and landed last Wednesday. But we thank God for His help and grace to accomplish all He wanted to do with the team during the days we had together.

windham-to-kingfisherLord willing we fly all the way back home to southern Ontario on Thursday, October 6 (three planes, six airports, 1100 miles, 12 hours, two time zones, one Canadian province).

Thank you for being an essential part of this work, and helping the Oji-Cree to have better access to God’s Word in their own language.

Blessings, Bill and Norma Jean

Fall moose hunting harvest, Kingfisher Lake 2016

Fall moose hunting harvest, Kingfisher Lake 2016

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Northern Translation Brief: “The Next Generation”

Our Dear Partners,

When the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Gathering was held at Prince Albert in 2014, there were several projects that were prioritized, including work on Oji-Cree, Cree and Naskapi Bible translation projects, along with activities focused on building the capacity of the local communities to accomplish these translation goals. At the second Gathering at Toronto in 2016 these priorities were repeated and expanded to include other First Nations language communities with Bible translation needs.

This “Translation Brief” talks about a key component that God is using to help address these needs: the Next Generation of Bible translation facilitators and team members!TranslationNextGeneration2


“Jesus told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ ” –Luke 10:2


Is there a linguist in the house?RecruitingPosterpicture

More and more around the world, the speakers of minority languages themselves are gaining the skills they need to translate the Bible into their own mother tongue. But communities still need someone to walk with them and help them to gain confidence in those skills, and to assist in the many technical and academic ways that are needed when a community chooses to begin a Bible Translation project.

In our experience there are many things that can happen at once, and having trained Bible translation facilitator team working on site for an extended period is essential for training, coordination, mentoring and helping, and building a network of relationships that is vital to the success of the project. Even in situations where there is a mature mother tongue translation team like in the Naskapi community, there are a myriad of ongoing tasks that a facilitator with linguistics and language development training and experience can make easier.

Cree Map July 2014aWe want to highlight for you some of these new teams who are soon to be headed north to work alongside our First Nations friends who are committed to their own translation projects, so that you get to know them better as we are, and can pray for them.

Matthew and Caitlin Windsor

Cait & Matt Windsor

Cait & Matt Windsor

Matthew and Caitlin are from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. We met them while we were living in Aldergrove, BC and Norma Jean was following her graduate coursework from 2013-2015 at the Trinity Western University campus in Langley BC. Matthew was enrolled at CanIL, the Canadian Institute of Linguistics, also on the Trinity Western campus in Langley, in preparation for service in Bible Translation. During their time there, we shared with the students about the work that we do with the Naskapi translation project in Quebec, and the need for Bible Translation in other First Nations communities.

Caitlin and Matthew responded to God’s call on their lives and were accepted to Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada in December 2014, and in the spring of 2015 we received confirmation that they would work with First Nations communities in northern Canada.

Cait&Hazel

Hazel Windsor

They visited the Naskapi community with us during a working trip in support of the translation team in the fall of 2015, and are now trusting God to raise the financial and prayer support team that they will need before they move to northern Canada.

In January their first child was born, Hazel! She is a very precious blessing and she already brings much joy to their home!

Martin and Alice Reed

Martin and Alice

Martin & Alice Reed

Martin and Alice are newlyweds, just having been married on March 12, 2016. They met while training for Wycliffe Bible translation ministry at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics (GIAL) in Dallas, they are united by a shared passion for crossing language and culture barriers to make God’s Word accessible to all. They were both accepted into Wycliffe USA in the fall of 2015, and have been approved to join the translation teams working with First Nations communities in northern Canada.

Alice and Martin also must complete raising their support like Caitlin and Matt, but they have an additional hurdle to negotiate: as US citizens, they must satisfy Canadian immigration regulations before being allowed to work in northern Canada.

Martin and Alice will be joining us on our next working trip to Kawawachikamach to visit the translation team and get acquainted with the Naskapi community.

Linguistics Internships

The founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, William Cameron Townsend, had not only established a curriculum of linguistics training for new teams preparing to serve in minority language communities, but also a component called “Jungle Camp” in Chiapas, Mexico, where teams would be trained to live in remote, cross-cultural situations. Other versions of this orientation training were also established through the years to suit the region and the culture. We still see this as an important step for new Bible translation facilitation teams.

KawawaFall2012

Kawawachikamach

IMG_8002

some members of the Naskapi translation team

Both the Windsors and the Reeds will be spending an internship period in service to the Naskapi language project in their remote northern First Nations community of Kawawachikamach. The Naskapi language team and leadership has agreed to host this internship period and help the new teams to get a start on language and culture learning with them, while the new teams assist the mother tongue translation staff with their current translation and language program, all the while being supported and mentored by Bill and Norma Jean. This will provide these new teams with practical experience before they take on their long-term assignment in another First Nations language program somewhere else in the north. Both new teams hope to begin their respective internships sometime in 2017, first one team and then the other.

A day-to-day work routine with the Naskapi team will also help the Naskapi to be successful and accelerate in their own Old Testament translation goals, and in training new Naskapi language specialists as well.

Meg Billingsley

Meg Billingsley

Meg Billingsley

Meg is not a stranger to First Nations Bible Translation in Canada. She joined Wycliffe Bible Translators and was assigned to the Plains Cree translation project around 2002, working from Prince Albert Sasksatchewan. She took an assignment with the Mi’kmaq translation project at Sydney Nova Scotia around 2008, where she has served as facilitator until this year. This month she begins her training to become a translation consultant, and she will be moving to Ontario to begin applying those skills alongside First Nations mother tongue translators, beginning with the first draft translation being produced by the new Oji-Cree translation project.

A translation consultant is someone who works with translation teams in a variety of languages to support translators in their work and help them to produce a translation which clearly and accurately communicates the meaning of Scripture in ways that sound natural in the language.

As she gains experience, she will be mentored by senior translation consultants. We expect that she will do much of her work from a distance and make short term visits into the language communities for checking sessions. While she is part of the “Next Generation”, she comes to the work in Northern Canada with nearly 15 years of experience working with First Nations languages, and we are happy to have her along!

Ben Wukasch

Ben Wukasch

Ben Wukasch

Ben Wukasch has expressed his interest and hopes to be involved in what God is doing in bringing the Scriptures into the heart languages of First Nations people in Canada. He graduated from Princeton in the States, where he majored in Environmental Engineering and minored in Linguistics and Latin American Studies. He was involved in both mission work in Latin America and wrote his thesis on Appropriate Technology and Peru.

Ben was involved in a project where the Quechua speaking residents of a small village on the outskirts of a city problem-solved and decided on a project for their community. He then studied Biblical Greek and Hebrew at the University of Toronto, and later on completed a Master of Applied Linguistics and Exegesis (MLE) degree at Trinity Western with CanIL.

He looks forward to someday joining what God is already at work doing in Canada, among its most ancient citizens, and he appreciates your prayers as he seeks God’s will for his life.


The Canadian Bible Society has worked along side Wycliffe in several of the indigenous translation projects over the years. They too have recently recruited additional staff to serve in translation projects in the north:

Catherine Aldred-Shull

Catherine Aldred-Shull

Catherine Aldred-Shull

Catherine is the daughter of Ray Aldred (Th.D., Wycliffe College) a Cree from the Swan River Band in Alberta. Catherine received her BA in Biblical Studies from Columbia Bible College in 2010 and Masters in Religious Studies & Bible Translation from McGill University in 2013. Earlier this month she accepted a position in the Bible Society as “Translation Officer Trainee”.

She has a long association with the Canadian Bible Society, particularly with the Montreal District which supported her studies in linguistics at McGill University. She has also worked with the Society’s Translation Team on indigenous languages. She expects to be working with some of the Cree language communities in Saskatchewan.


Bible translation is the responsibility of the whole church. We certainly can’t do it alone. Nor can just Wycliffe, or the Bible Society, or the indigenous church or language community. We need each other and we certainly rejoice that God is calling a new generation of field workers, facilitators and specialists to work alongside the First Nations people that God is calling to Himself.

Prayer Requests:

Pray for Matthew and Caitlin Windsor and little Hazel:

  • that God would grant them patience and that they would stay rooted in Jesus as they wait and prepare in Comox
  • that God would continue to connect them with the people He has identified to contribute financially and prayerfully to the translation work
  • that they would be a blessing to their families and their church family during their time on Vancouver Island
  • Get current prayer requests and connect with the Windsors here: https://thewindsorsupnorth.com/

Pray for Martin and Alice Reed:

  • Washington Visit: They will be in the Seattle and Portland areas 7/27-8/2 to share about their Wycliffe ministry. Pray for strong connections and new partners.
  • Church Interview: The missions committee at Alice’s home church will interview them on 7/24. May God use it to form an even deeper partnership.
  • Immigration: Pray for the application process to continue smoothly.
  • Get current prayer requests and connect with the Reeds here: https://www.wycliffe.org/partner/reed

Pray for Meg Billingsley:

  • for all the work to be done in finishing things up with the Mi’kmaq translation, with packing and moving, and with beginning her translation consultant training. Pray for the Lord’s peace and empowering in the midst of it all.
  • for favor with immigration workers and government officials as she travels to her training in South Asia later this month, for safety in travels and health and protection while she’s there. Most of all that the Lord would be at work in and through all her interactions and relationships wherever she goes.
  • that the Lord will lead her to the right apartment in southern Ontario, and that she will finish her work among the Mi’kmaq well.

Pray for Ben Wukasch:

  • that God would make His direction clear to Ben as he seeks to serve in First Nations Bible Translation ministry
  • that Ben would be faithful day-by-day in the ways God is using him now in ESL work and welcoming newcomers to Canada

Pray for Catherine Aldred-Shull

  • that her transition to her new position working with the Canadian Bible Society will go smoothly, including any moves and orientation
  • that God would guide her as she starts the 3-year United Bible Society (UBS) Translation Officer training cycle this September
  • that God would lead her to areas of engagement in the Bible translation task in Canada that would be fulfilling and effective

And finally, please pray for all of us, that our interactions and work would be a blessing to each other and to the First Nations and indigenous language communities that God has called us to serve.

Thank you for your prayers for us all.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean