Northern Translation Brief: 2022 First Nations Translator Workshop

Our Dear Partners

We are so grateful for your prayers for a successful First Nations Translator Workshop that was held in Guelph, Ontario in November. God has answered your prayers in wonderful and encouraging ways! This was our sixth such workshop since the first one in 2015, and the first workshop since the beginning of the covid pandemic.

Indigenous translators come to these workshops for instruction and encouragement. This series of workshops was begun as a response to First Nations church leaders who are interested in building the capacity of speakers in their own language groups to have better access to the Scriptures in their own languages.

Participants

The Naskapi language community (northern Quebec) sent the most participants, eight persons had planned to come, representing three distinct organizations:

George Guanish working with Bill at NDC–1994

The Naskapi Development Corporation (NDC) is the indigenous organization that sponsors the Bible Translation project in the community. Bill has been invited to work with the language team since 1994, initially helping with software development and computer support to enable them to use their script on computers, and assisting with database development for the Naskapi dictionary. George Guanish worked with Bill during those early years helping him learn the language and translating the first Naskapi scriptures with the Walking With Jesus literacy series.

Since then, George has worked as the head translator for the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach (NNK), the local First Nations government office.

Since the middle of the covid pandemic, the Naskapi Development Corporation no longer has any full-time translators on their staff. But the NDC Administrative Director, Ruby Sandy-Sandy Robinson, has also been attending and participating in the workshops for the past few years, and has recently become more engaged in Naskapi language work herself.

NDC Administrative Director Ruby Sandy-Robinson

Unable to attend from the Naskapi team this year was former NDC lead translator Silas Nabinicaboo and his wife Susan. (Silas was featured in a previous Translation Brief on about the dedication of the Psalms, here). Retired Naskapi translator Alma Chemaganish was also hoping to come, but she too could not be here with us this year.

The Naskapi community also sent two returning participants representing Saint John’s Anglican Church in Kawawachikamach, lay-reader Robert Swappie and Maggie Mokoush-Swappie, church administrator.

Robert and Maggie, working with Bill J

The Oji-Cree speaking language in northern Ontario had planned to send four participants. Rev. Ruth Kitchekesik came, representing the “Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh” and their Bible Translation program there at the Kingfisher Lake First Nation, in northern Ontario. She accompanied translators Dominick Beardy and Yvonne Winter. Unfortunately, their main translator Jessie Atlookan tested positive for Covid just before departure, and was unable to come.

Ruth Kitchekesik, Yvonne Winter, and Dominick Beardy, working together with help from Matthew Windsor

We were also hoping for and expected participation from three other First Nations languages, but unfortunately no other language groups were represented this year.

Workshop Program

Each year, the workshop staff strives to provide training opportunities for participants that are relevant, stimulating, and lead them to a deeper understanding of the message of hope that we find in the Scriptures.

Jeff Green teaches a session on consistency in parallel Scripture passages

Besides sessions in basic Bible translation principles, this year’s workshop featured three interactive workshop topics in which the participants from their various language groups could work together on practical translation exercises that can be brought back to their home communities.

Bible Society: Consistency in Translation

We were greatly privileged to have assistance from the Canadian Bible Society, who sent their personnel to lead multiple sessions for the participants. Translation Officer Ben Wukasch and Bible Society Intern Sarah Newman, came to teach about the Biblical tools and principles to ensure that the translators’ was consistent and faithful to the original. The Bible Society’s Director of Scripture Translation Dr. Jeff Green also taught multiple sessions to the participants on the important topic of maintaining consistency in their translation projects.

Ben Wukasch getting ready to lead his session

Understanding the Meaning

Another multiple-session series focused on a crucial step for Bible translation that ensures  accuracy and faithfulness to the original text called “Understanding the Meaning”. SIL Translation consultant Meg Billingsley guided the language teams through this step by helping them to study the source text until they thoroughly understood the meaning of the passage themselves before they began to render it into their own languages.

Meg Billingsley helps the participants learn to use the resources to assist them with understanding the meaning

Using the “Bloom” book creation software

SIL’s Colin Suggett was on hand to demonstrate and guide the participants in using an extended set of software tools developed to make it easier for speakers of minority languages to produce their own books for use in their communities and churches.

Colin Suggett watches the Naskapi team using the Bloom software to make their own Naskapi language books

In addition to the basic Bible translation principles sessions each day, and the three major topics (Understanding the Meaning, Consistency in Translation, and producing books using the Bloom Literacy Library) the participants also engaged in open sharing sessions about how their work is influencing their communities, how having the Scriptures in their own language has impacted their own lives, and learned how First Nations Bible Translation is being prayed for and supported by the wider Church and Bible Agencies. Leaders from SIL International, Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Bible Society addressed, encouraged and prayed for the participants and the facilitators during the sessions each day.

Corporate worship, Scripture readings and devotional times were also scheduled throughout the week, along with times of fellowship and connection.

Bill leads the group in a song from a Cree language hymnal

Rev. Ruth Kitchekesik leads the group in a devotional talk about a Scripture passage

Canadian Bible Society regional director Kevin Schlechter with the Naskapi and Oji-Cree participants

Wycliffe Canada Project Liaison Dan Grove shares with the participants

Bill sharing with the group

Thank you for your interest in and prayers for us as we help these language groups gain capacity to translate the Bible and develop their languages in their own communities.

Serving with you, Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz

Back Row: George Guanish, Robert Swappie, Dominick Beardy, Yvonne Winter.
Front Row: Ruby Sandy-Robinson, Maggie Mokoush-Swappie, Rev. Ruth Kitchekesik.

Northern Translation Brief 20Aug2022

Our Dear Partners

Thank you so much for your prayers for us over the past several weeks. We hope that your summer is going well. Here’s a current midsummer 2022 update from us.

Naskapi Scriptures in Use

The “Naskapi 2” class this June in Kawawachikamach

You may recall that a dozen years ago, I (Bill) had the privilege of teaching four units of a Naskapi reading and writing course to Naskapi speakers enrolled in the McGill University Teacher Training program. We wrote about that experience back then and you can read about it by clicking this link: [Naskapi-McGill Class].
This fall, the Naskapi School once again began a new program partnering with McGill University to provide quality, University-level education resources to another cohort of candidates, and I was invited to teach Naskapi grammar, reading and writing and history. The Naskapi 1 course was all “online” in November, but this June I had the opportunity to teach the Naskapi 2 course “in person” in the Naskapi community, and we had thirteen young Naskapi students. Our son Benjamin also traveled to Schefferville for those three weeks and audited the class.

Teaching the Naskapi syllabic characters with the Naskapi-McGill cohort

During our class sessions besides learning about Naskapi verbs and nouns, Naskapi history and culture, the participants also practice Naskapi reading  and writing: our textbook? The Naskapi Bible. Class by class they read to each other aloud in Naskapi using the Bible in their own language. They also practice typing in Naskapi, once again using the Naskapi Bible as their model for “good spelling and structure”. I am looking forward to being asked to return in the coming months to continue this course for Naskapi 3 and Naskapi 4.


Naskapi Translation “Consultant-Checking

Working with Silas and Susan at their home in Kawawachikamach in June

Book of Judges:
Silas has completed the back-translation of the book of Judges in preparation for a consultant-check earlier this spring. We have now begun working with translation consultants Meg Billingsley from Wycliffe/SIL and Ben Wukasch with the Canadian Bible Society (remotely via Zoom), to begin making our way through this book of the Bible to ensure that it is accurate, natural and clear. During Bill’s visit to Kawawachikamach in June, we had several sessions together at Silas’s house, and now we are carrying on regularly over the Internet.

Meg, Bill, Ben and Silas working through chapter 5 of the book of Judges in Naskapi

We expect to be working through the book of Judges this way over the next several months.

Book of Exodus:
We are ready to have the Naskapi Book of Exodus published this summer. Bill is currently working on the final stages of preparing the audio version of this book for broadcast on the local Naskapi Radio station, and over the Internet. We hope to have this work completed by the end of the year, Lord willing.

Book of Psalms:
After we published the book of Psalms in 2019, we also completed audio recording of all 150 chapters. Bill is working on the digital audio-editing of these sound files to prepare them for broadcast on the local Naskapi Radio station, and over the Internet. We hope to have this work completed by the early 2023, Lord willing.


New Scriptures for Old Friends

Susan and David Swappie, with their “well-loved” and “well-read” Naskapi scriptures

In previous Translation Briefs over the past several years, you have gotten to know our dear Naskapi friends David and Suzan Swappie. Bill visited with them this past June during his weeks in Kawawachikamach, and they assured us of their ongoing prayers for us, and asked for the latest scriptures that were available. You may remember that it was David who challenged us to begin work on several Old Testament books, including the book of Job. Bill was able to bring him a preliminary version of the first draft of 19 chapters of the book of Job in Naskapi. He was so overjoyed that tears were in his eyes. We were also privileged to bring them new editions of other Naskapi scriptures that they are in the habit of reading every day to the point that their books were coming to pieces.


A change of seasons in life

Foster kids at our house–last year … and this year

For more than thirty years, wherever we have worked–both in the First Nations communities up north and more recently here in southern Ontario–we have served children in need by providing foster care in our home. During the past few months, God has made it clear that we should be stepping back from this ministry in order to more effectively serve Him in other ways. This includes accommodating the needs of our own extended family members, ongoing First Nations Bible Translation, and other things. Please feel free to ask us to share more about this if you are curious.


Prayer Requests

McGill-Naskapi 2 class completion day, June 22, 2022

  • Thanks for your prayers for the Naskapi community, their vulnerability to COVID, and the young people learning to read their own language and reading the Bible.
  • Continue to pray for Silas, Bill and the consultants as they plug away at Naskapi translation projects and the dictionary revisions over Zoom.
  • Silas also asks prayer for his wife Susan who is going through treatment for cancer.
  • Please remember to pray for the vision of the Naskapi community organization as they hope to rebuild their language department. And pray for us regarding the part that we may play in helping to build their capacity in training and mentoring.
  • Pray that the leadership team for our November 2022 First Nations Workshop will plan well and make wise decisions toward the continuation of capacity-building for First Nations Bible translation across Canada.
  • And remember us as we step back from serving as foster parents, and our openness to serving in the other ways that God is preparing us for.

Thank you for your generous partnership with us in the ministry God has called us to, and for your prayers and interest in His work in our lives and in the lives of those we connect with.

Serving with you,
Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I Hunted Otters and other stories

The newest book in the Naskapi Legends and Stories project, Ka-nutachikwayan: When I Hunted Otters and other stories, has just been completed! (Summer, 2021)

This book contains five more original Naskapi stories for reading in the Naskapi language, with a literary English translation, historical and linguistic notes, and beautifully illustrated by Elizabeth Jancewicz.

Kinuwâpinuw: One family’s story of an encounter with spirits, and what came of it, with actual locations provided on maps.

Kâpisâukin: Murder and revenge in the early days of the fur trading posts.

Kâ-nûtâchikwâyân: Another engaging memoire of John Peastitute of winter hunting on the land, this time having to do with otters.

Wâpinûtâhch kâ-ispiyinânûuch: The tale of a long journey from inland to the east coast of Labrador, and back. This fascinating story begins in summer 1935 (by canoe) and ends in mid winter (by snowshoe) and has detailed accompanying maps, identifying placenames and people.

Miskâhtuyâpâw: An amazing account of an amazing Naskapi man that has been passed down to the storyteller from generations before him, recounting events that apparently took place during the second half of the 1800s. Maps and placenames accompany this story too.


Naskapi Language Literacy

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

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 summer of 2021, the NDC published their seventh (and final) volume in this project series, Ka-nutachikwayan: When I Hunted Otters and other stories.

The potential 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 (read an account of this location in the first story in our sixth book, Wapimakuch ka-nuchahakinuch: 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-Îes 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. Before settling at Schefferville, John had trecked even beyond traditional Naskapi territory as far as Sept-Îles (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. You can read an engaging account of one of these journeys in the seventh book of this series, Ka-nutachikwayan: When I Hunted Otters, “A Journey East”.

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 (the late) 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 (the late) 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 English 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://soundcloud.com/ndevcorp.

Online repository for Naskapi Stories and Legends audio–https://soundcloud.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 2021 book,
Ka-nutachikwayan: When I Hunted Otters and other stories.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=1aDBS-Sf6TJTpYqjl4Jub09-lw8wA9MU0&usp=sharing

Google Maps showing John Peastitute’s route for his “Journey East” story in the Otter Hunting book.

https://googleearthcommunity.proboards.com/thread/8007/when-hunted-otters-stories-nutachikwayan

Detail of map printed on page 65 in the Otter Hunting book

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, which are 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, When I Hunted Otters and the two previous volumes A Whale Hunt (2019) and Caught in a Blizzard (2017) contain stories of caribou hunting, otter 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, murder 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 still 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 the books wholesale in bulk quantities. But not everyone is able to purchase the books in person there.

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

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, Ka-nutachikwayan: When I Hunted Otters and other stories, is our seventh and final volume in this stage of the Naskapi Legends and Stories project. You can find all the titles that have been published in this series available at our online store.

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://www.innu-aimun.ca/english/stories/labrador-myths-and-legends/.

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

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.

———. 2021. Ka-nutachikwayan: When I Hunted Otters 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.

<end>

 

 

 

 

Northern Translation Brief 26Apr2021

Our Dear Partners,

Like you and everyone else in the world, meeting and working face-to-face with people from different places has been restricted for us for more than a year.

The picture above, taken in 2019 is me (Bill) and the late Philip Einish Jr., one of the Naskapi elders who we partnered with to help put the scriptures in the Naskapi language. Philip passed away in the summer of 2020, but we are still carrying on with his vision, even though we cannot meet face-to-face like that.

The Naskapi Development Corporation’s new video conference equipment at the office in Kawawachikamach

But since the end of February, we have been meeting virtually with some of the translation staff who have come out of retirement to assist with Naskapi language projects. Thanks to a new high-speed fibre-optic Internet connection at the Naskapi community, it has become practical to do this kind of work on a regular basis. The Covid-19 restrictions have also inspired the translation office to upgrade their infrastructure as well.

Most of the time, we enjoy a clear audio and video signal each time we meet.

Since January, Bill has also conducted a weekly Virtual Naskapi Community Language Course, during which the participants practice Naskapi reading and writing: the textbook? The Naskapi Bible. Week by week we have had between three and fifteen Naskapi adults learning to read Naskapi using the Bible in their own language.

Here’s a screen image from Week 3 of the Virtual Naskapi Community Language Course, in February 2021.

It was hoped that conducting this course might also inspire some of the participants to consider whether they might want to be trained to participate more fully in the Naskapi Bible translation work themselves. That still remains a possibility, but so far most of the participants are already busy with other things.


But help has come from unexpected places. One of the retired Naskapi school teachers and another retired Naskapi translator have agreed to review the draft copies of the scriptures by hand at home, and just last week I received a package in the mail containing all of their suggestions and corrections.

Checking copies of Exodus and some other unfinished Old Testament passages, reviewed and marked up with corrections.

Also, in the middle of March 2021, one of our retired senior translators Silas agreed to meet with me each week to review chapters of Exodus in order to finish the remaining steps required to bring this book to publication.

Silas helping Bill with the checking and review of Exodus over an interactive video connection

We have also experimented and developed innovative ways for Silas to produce audio recordings of chapters from the Naskapi Book of Psalms. Over the past several weeks, we have completed the recording of Psalms 1 through 17 in this way.

Just last week on April 21, 2021, Silas was able to connect with Bill over the Internet from “out in the bush”, while staying at a remote hunting cabin in northern Labrador. Silas’s brother-in-law has set up his cabin with a remarkably quiet electrical generator and a satellite-based internet connection, through which we were able to complete the checking on another chapter of Exodus, and also recorded three more chapters in the book of Psalms.

Silas at his laptop out in the bush in Northern Labrador!

You may remember that Bill’s mother Martha passed away a year ago this month at the age of 94, and we were unable to have a funeral or memorial service for her at that time. Our family is planning a memorial service on the one-year anniversary of her passing, on Saturday May 1. So Norma Jean and I plan to travel to the USA for a week to attend that service. We will be leaving on Tuesday, April 27 and traveling by car to Connecticut, spend 7 days there and return on May 3rd. We will be complying with all regulations that we are aware of in all the areas we are traveling through. We do know this, that upon our return to Ontario, we must arrive with documentation for a negative Covid test, take another test at the border and then another one after 10 days in Ontario; we will also be under a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Martha Jancewicz, 1926-2020

The Children’s Aid Society has made arrangements for temporary foster homes for the three children still in our care. Still, it’s getting hectic here this weekend as we are packing for three trips: Emma (6) and Lucas (7) are going to one house for at least the three weeks, Remmy (3) going to another house for the three weeks, and also packing for Norma Jean and I going to Connecticut for one week: lots of laundry and separating toys and school stuff. We bring Remmy to his new place Monday afternoon, Emma and Lucas on Monday morning, and then we leave early Tuesday morning.


Thank you for remembering us in your prayers: our travels, our continued work with the Naskapi translation project, the Naskapi translators and their community, and the children from Children’s Aid.

Serving with you,
Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz

 

PS: In case you missed it, click this internet link below and read a well-written article from SIL International about the Naskapi language project:

https://www.sil.org/story/naskapi-model-project

 

 

 

 

Northern Translation Brief: Western Cree Bible

Our Dear Partners,

More than six years ago now, we posted a Northern Translation Brief about the legacy of “The Bible in Plain Cree”, or the Mason Cree Bible, originally translated in the mid-1800s. Copies of this book have been difficult to obtain and out of print for some time since the last printing in 1976.

At the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity Building Gathering in Prince Albert in 2014, one of the priorities that the indigenous participants entrusted to the Bible agencies was to comple the work on this Bible and bring it to publication.

Over the past several years, we have been working on this translation with the Canadian Bible Society, to assist them in preparing the text for an important long-awaited reprint. You can read more about that story by clicking this link below:

“The Bible in Plain Cree”

Good News! In December of 2020, The Canadian Bible Society informed us that their new edition of this book is now available for purchase and distribution to the indigenous communities that have been waiting so long. Praise God with us for this important milestone!

The indigenous readers of this Bible were consulted about the physical size, shape, weight and appearance of this new printing. In many respects the book is a lot like the old Bible that they were familiar with. But access has improved a great deal since the last printing. The new edition can be purchased (by anyone!) over the internet at the Canadian Bible Society’s online store:

https://www.biblescanada.com/cree-west-plains-traditional-bible

Cree Bible available online

The composition, type size and layout has been improved for easier reading.

Newly designed and formatted page layout (bottom)

The new edition also features cross references at the bottom of the page.

New edition (top) with cross-references

Legacy Scriptures for the digital age

The text of this Bible is also available on your phone, tablet or computer using the “YouVersion” Bible app: https://www.bible.com/In the digital version, the Cree Bible is available in either Cree syllabic script as it was originally printed, or in Standard Roman Orthography (SRO). Same words, different writing systems.

Cree Syllabics:

https://www2.bible.com/bible/2083/LUK.2.KKMs

Standard Roman Orthography:

https://www2.bible.com/bible/2084/LUK.2.KKMr

Cree Bible in syllabics on YouVersion

And that’s not all. You may remember that we worked with the late Rev. Fred Evans from 2017 to 2019 to record the entire New Testament from this book in audio form, so that even Cree speakers who are unable to read the text themselves can hear it being read. You can read all about the CreeTalker project when you click this link below:

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

Fred Evans passed away in March 2020, and will be missed by all of us who knew him. But he leaves a lasting legacy, and continues to speak through these recorded words of the Cree Scriptures.

Rev. Fred Evans reads the Scriptures in Cree

To hear Fred yourself, just go to one of the YouVersion links above for the digital version of this Bible, in either Cree Syllabics or Standard Roman Orthography, and then click the speaker icon.

It’s a reason to celebrate–so are we finished now?

This Bible has had, and continues to have, an influence on the lives of many speakers of Cree in communities all across Canada.

There are at least five different indigenous languages spoken in the area where this Cree Bible is used. Many people who use this Bible speak a different, though related language as their mother tongue at home. Also, the language of this Bible is an older version of Cree that is not as well understood by younger speakers.

Bill has written a paper about the story of the translation of this Bible in the 1800s as well as an analysis of the language of the translation. This was presented at the 50th Algonquian Conference Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in 2018.

This 20-minute presentation tells about the translators and the language of this 1862 translation of the Bible in Cree, and when you have the time, I invite you to watch a video of this presentation prepare for YouTube:

The paper was peer-reviewed and published in the Papers of the Fiftieth Algonquian Conference, edited by Monica Macaulay and Margaret Noodin, published by Michigan State University Press.

234 Pages
6.00″ x 9.00″
ISBN: 9781611863833
Published in February 2021

https://msupress.org/9781611863833/papers-of-the-fiftieth-algonquian-conference/


Even though Bishop Lydia Mamakwa speaks Oji-Cree as her mother tongue, this old Cree Bible is the one she grew up with and still uses for some of her devotional reading. At a recent Zoom gathering of First Nations Bible Translators, she shared the following encouraging words of thanks about the recent release of this new edition:

Bishop Lydia Mamakwa

“I want to say thank you to everyone that worked on getting the Cree Bible, the Mason Bible to us, that it was printed. Our people are really enjoying it and happy that it’s now available. We thank you, Jeff *, for your help in that. … It’s so good to have the big lettering **. It’s really good to have that. I use it some mornings when I have my readings, I really appreciate it.”

* Jeff Green, Canadian Bible Society

** Large 14pt font size

 

Even though Bishop Lydia celebrate the new access to this new edition of the Cree Bible, she and the Oji-Cree translation team still continue work on their vision of a contemporary Bible translation in her own Oji-Cree language, for the next generation of Oji-Cree speakers.

Praise God with us for this important and significant milestone, this new edition of the old Cree Bible, and continue to pray with us for the other people in Cree territory that are still waiting for access to the Scriptures in their own languages too.

Serving with you,

Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz

Virtual Naskapi Community Language Course-2021

Over the years, we have conducted several in-person Naskapi language courses in conjunction with Jimmy Sandy Memorial School, to help people in Kawawa improve their reading and writing and Naskapi language skills.

From 2010-2014, McGill University offered training for a cohort of Naskapi teachers. During this time we developed an effective curriculum for teaching Naskapi reading and writing in a way that was rapid and successful.

Combining group reading, daily practice, keyboarding Naskapi into the computer and learning about Naskapi grammar, many of the participants in this course went on to teach others. You can read more about it at this link: Naskapi McGill Course

The NDC Board of Directors has approved a virtual Naskapi language course for community members. We will be conducting this course using a Zoom video connection. All Naskapi community members with access to the internet on a computer are invited to join in the course.

Together, we will learn to read Naskapi better using Naskapi legends and the Naskapi Bible Translation. We will begin by meeting once a week by Zoom. The sessions will be recorded so that they can be played again at other times.

Come join us as we learn to read Naskapi better together.

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 11Sep2020

Aside

Doing what we can,
Where we are,
With what we have.

Our Dear Partners,
So often we have featured a map on the top of our Northern Translation Briefs, as maps are easy to use to describe the many places we would travel to or travel from to do the work that God has called us to.

However, like so many of you, we have been home for the past several months, washing our hands, staying physically distanced, and wearing masks when must be with people from ourside our bubble.

Bill has worked remotely, by computer, for months with the Naskapi team on this and several other Naskapi language projects. But during those months, for various reasons, the capacity of the Naskapi translation team has been gradually reduced:

The Naskapi translation team in 2019

Last summer, Amanda took a leave of absence to explore other employment opportunities, and took training to be a conservation officer. Since then, she has also gone on maternity leave, and at this time does not expect to return to the translation desk. In January Tshiueten also took a leave of absence to explore a career in communications, but he has left that position and is not planning to return to translation at this time. During the Covid-19 lockdown in the spring, both Silas and Ruby were on leave from their duties, but Silas chose to take early retirement at the end of June, and then last month on August 20, Ruby informed us that she is taking a one-year leave of absence to work on education.

The Naskapi translation team today

Pray with us that God will send willing and capable Naskapi persons to fill these spaces, so that their dream of completing the Bible in Naskapi can still be realized.


But all is not as bleak as it appears: Silas, in his retirement, has reached out to Bill, asking him to work with him, helping Silas to obtain and to set up a computer of his very own, so that he can continue to work on Naskapi translation and language projects on an informal basis.
This month Bill has begun to meet with Silas over Zoom calls to begin to check the book of Exodus and to record the audio for the book of Psalms! Praise God for laying this on Silas’ heart.

Three little girls from the local Foster Care agency

God gave us a large home to share. He made it clear to us that He wants us to use it to care for “the least of these“. Since early summer, we have had Charlotte and Bella with us, and last week we responded to an emergency call from the Agency to care for another child whose family is in crisis, Marison. Each child is from a different family and they each have their own special needs: we are doing what we can with what we have. They could be with us for another week, or for several months. God only knows. We will leave it in His hands.

New baby chicks at breakfast time this week.
(The girls’ faces are intentionally blurred to protect their privacy)

Like everyone else during the pandemic, we use social media, Zoom and Skype a lot more regularly now to stay in touch with and support the other translation teams we are responsible for. Isolated Indigenous communities remain quite vulnerable and locked down. Continue to remember and pray for our teams working creatively in these areas: Matt & Caitlin Windsor with the Oji-Cree in Kingfisher Lake, Ontario, and Martin & Alice Reed with the Swampy Cree from their home in Thompson, Manitoba.
Continue to pray with us for the way forward with the Naskapi translators at Kawawachikamach in northern Quebec.

And we pray for you, that through this pandemic you too will find joy in doing what you can, where you are, with what you have.

Serving with you, Bill & Norma Jean


PS: You can follow the Bible translation and other work we continue to have the privilege to serve in at these links:
Northern Translation Brief
https://billjancewicz.com/
The Windsors Up North
https://www.thewindsorsupnorth.com/
Kaleidoscope–Reed’s Ministry
https://www.facebook.com/ReedsKaleidoscope

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