Northern Translation Summer 2013 Newsletter

Our dear partners,
Thank you for your prayers for us during the past few hectic months of work on Naskapi language projects and our service to others as part of our Wycliffe assignment. During the first four months of 2013, we were working mainly in northeast  Canada at our home in Schefferville near the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach (Kawawa). Norma Jean has served the past few years in the Naskapi school in the Naskapi language curriculum department, in support of teachers who teach in the Naskapi language in elementary school. The curriculum department is responsible for providing the Naskapi language materials that are used to help Naskapi children learn to read and write their own language.PastedGraphic-1
Over in Labrador on the coast about 240 miles east of Kawawa is the Mushuau Innu community of Natuashish, close relatives of the Naskapi. We were invited to conduct training workshops there and at the other Labrador Innu community of Sheshatshiu for Innu-speaking classroom assistants, and to help them to begin setting up their own curriculum department at their schools there in March. Norma Jean conducted education and material production classes, while Bill provided computer training and also began to explore adapting the Naskapi scriptures to the Mushuau Innu language by audio.
Naskapi Language Specialists
The first few months of the year had Bill also very busy with a remarkable opportunity to recruit and train four new Naskapi language specialists to work full-time in the Naskapi community on translation and other language development work. IMG_5040aThe four that were selected and hired by the Naskapi Development Corporation were Amanda, Kissandra, Kabimbetas and Jimmy. These four were trained in using computers to do Naskapi translation work, and in daily reading and writing practice, with a view to working more and more independently on translation projects of their own. Also, in April Bill taught another section of the McGill University teacher-training class, a dozen Naskapi adults who are  working towards their Bachelors of Education (B.Ed) in order to teach and/or prepare Naskapi materials at the Naskapi school. This four-year program started in 2010 includes undergraduate-level university courses provided for the most part right in the community. Bill has been teaching adult literacy principles (reading and writing in Naskapi) along with Naskapi grammar to enhance their reading success. The four Naskapi language specialists-in-training also joined the McGill students since what they needed to learn was pretty much the same thing that Bill was teaching there.
Professional Development and Academics
Since beginning to work with Wycliffe we have always been strongly encouraged to keep our education and linguistics skills current, but that was not always easy to do, with the full-time work on the language project and raising a family. But since the publication of the Naskapi New Testament in 2007, our Wycliffe administration has urged us to follow through by working towards advanced degrees in our fields of service. So, back in 2009, we enrolled in studies at the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) at the University of North Dakota (UND).

English: Merrifield Hall on the campus of the ...

English: Merrifield Hall on the campus of the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bill began his studies towards a Master of Arts (MA) in linguistics, and Norma Jean took the “Mega-Literacy” courses there that summer. This was also the summer that we moved back to the Naskapi community to focus on Naskapi literacy training and Old Testament translation. For the next five summers, we would return to the University of North Dakota SIL where Bill continued his graduate-level course-work in linguistics. We decided that it would be best for everyone if only one of us were enrolled in graduate school at a time, so Norma Jean served as director for childcare services at SIL for the past four summers, rather than course-work. Bill completed his MA course-work and successfully defended his thesis this summer in North Dakota, and graduated with his MA in linguistics from UND on August 2. The title of his thesis is “Grammar Enhanced Biliteracy: Naskapi Language Structures for Facilitating Reading in Naskapi”, which researches how teaching Naskapi grammar might assist those who are learning to read in of 2013 travels color
As already mentioned above, Norma Jean’s expertise and service to the language communities focuses on the area of education and curriculum, and, like Bill, wants her academic studies to contribute to her service in a significant way. She found course-work that focuses on multi-lingual education theory and practice in the MA-TESOL program that is offered by Trinity Western University, in Langley, British Columbia. She applied for and was accepted into this program, which is a 12-month, full-time course beginning in September of 2013. Besides the course-work, she will also be doing practical projects and internships, which may include periods of service in the Naskapi or Innu communities to apply the principles she will be learning.
While TESOL generally refers to “Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages”, Norma Jean’s focus will actually include methods of teaching literacy skills in the mother-tongue; such as teaching Naskapi speakers to read and write Naskapi better, or teaching Innu speakers to read and write Innu better, which will also result in their overall success in their language skills in other languages. The educational principles and strategies for these goals are similar, and can be applied to our ongoing language development work in these and other minority-languages.
…to be continued tomorrow (on page 2)

Final volume of the Naskapi 3-year Lectionary published

Advent 2012 begins “Year-C” of the Revised Common Lectionary, the collection of Sunday Bible readings that are used in the Naskapi church. You may remember that the “Year-A” book came out almost two years ago now (the blue book) and the church has been using the “Year-B” book (the red book) for the past fifty-one weeks. Over the past several months we have reviewed and revised the remaining Old Testament verses that are contained in the “Year-C” book, and we have just printed sixty copies for distribution. On November 23 another prayer was answered: All the boxes of Year-C books arrived in Kawawachikamach in time for the first Sunday of Advent, which is December 2 this year!

Each Sunday morning, a selection from the Old Testament is read (generally somewhere between 8 and 30 verses), followed by a Psalm; then the New Testament readings: a selection from the Epistles and a passage from the Gospels. The three-year lectionary cycle is used by many denominations of the church, in which Scripture readings are arranged 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. During the course of three years, more than seven thousand verses are read aloud to the congregation, a total that represents almost one-quarter of the Bible.

Like the other volumes of the lectionary, these books are being published and distributed by the Naskapi Development Corporation. People can drop by the office in Kawawachikamach anytime to purchase their own copy for just $10. The books are printed in diglot; that is, with the Naskapi text along side the English on each page. Readers simply look up the current Sunday in the index and turn to the appropriate page.

Anyone outside of Kawawachikamach can order this book (and many other fine Naskapi books) from the Naskapi Resources page of the Lulu website, at this address: The Year C volume is a perfect companion to Year A and Year B.

Even though the Year C volume completes the series, the Naskapi Development Corporation translation and language services department continues to actively review and revise these readings each week as they are read at church, and plans to publish updated versions during the coming three-year cycle. The latest volume would make a perfect Christmas gift for any of your Naskapi family or friends.

There are several more Naskapi publication projects nearing completion in the coming months. We are currently working on the final check of a proof of the entire book of Genesis in Naskapi that should be completed in the coming weeks Lord willing, followed by the 2013 Naskapi Scripture calendar, a new Naskapi children’s book, the first book of Naskapi legends featuring Kuîhkwâhchâw (Wolverine), and the final book in the Walking With Jesus series of Bible stories on the life of Christ.

We want to thank you for your interest and support for all of these Naskapi language projects.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean


Summer Translation Brief

Our dear Partners,

Greetings from the University of North Dakota where we have been living and working for nine weeks this summer. Bill is enrolled in an MA program in linguistics at the graduate school here, and Norma Jean is serving as the program’s Director of Childcare. Jaiden is still with us and keeping us on our toes as we serve him and his family as his Foster Parents.

By mid-August, we will be on our way back to the Naskapi community in Northern Quebec where we continue to serve their translation and language project.

Some important milestones for our family this summer: We gained a son-in-law at the beautiful wedding of our daughter Elizabeth to Eric Stevenson on July 16 at our home church in Connecticut. It was a wonderful, happy day and God has answered so many of our prayers.

Eric and Elizabeth will make our house in Preston their new home as they begin their lives together.

Bill has made good progress on his Master’s degree in linguistics–Lord willing, two more summers of university work should allow him to complete the program. Meanwhile, the rest of the year we will continue to work on the Naskapi and other related language projects.

This summer Nick also completed his State GED, earning his diploma. We are grateful to all our friends who supported him as he reached this goal. We are proud of him and eager to see how God will continue to lead him in his life.

Finally, in the past few months we have completed some important publication goals for the Naskapi project: The first edition of the Naskapi Lectionary Readings (Year A) which contain a considerable portion of Old Testament Lessons in Naskapi, was published in time to be used in the Naskapi Church at Easter. Also, Norma Jean and Elizabeth collaborated on another Naskapi literacy book “Little Lost Caribou”, which was published simultaneously in Naskapi and in English by Eric and Elizabeth under “Pocket Vinyl Productions”.

In spite of the busy summer, it has been a joy see all our children and our grandchildren again. Ben and Tamika are still in Baltimore with their children Nya and Arion, and Nick is staying in Preston with Eric and Elizabeth.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Thanksgiving Translation Brief 2010

Our dear Partners,

Canadian Thanksgiving was last month and Thanksgiving in the United States is this month. Since we are citizens of both countries we celebrate and give thanks during both holidays. We are thankful for you and your interest and generous support to the Bible translation projects we are involved in. We appreciate your prayers and encouragement too.

Naskapi Bible Translation

In September we enjoyed a visit from Watson Williams, the Wycliffe translation consultant who helped us with our New Testament checking. We had prepared for him over 900 verses that represent all of the Old Testament readings from the lectionary schedule used at the Naskapi church. This includes all of the Sunday readings from the Old Testament that are used week by week over the three years of the lectionary reading cycle; passages from the Pentateuch, history of Israel, poetry and the prophets.

Working with the Naskapi translators, Watson made good progress but ran out of time before we could complete all the verses we had prepared. So he left us with 195 verses that Bill will check on his own with the translators. When this work is done, these passages will be further reviewed for consistency and spelling, and then a printed version will be produced for community checking and general reading. We are grateful for this important step in making more of God’s Word available in the Naskapi language.

The book of Genesis has been checked and approved, and Bill is also preparing that for publication as well.

Bill has trained a new young translator by the name of Tshiueten, who is now working his way through the book of Exodus in Naskapi. Tshiueten is also enrolled as an extension student at McGill University (which means he can take his classes here in the Naskapi community). Bill also serves as a guest lecturer in these classes and is training a dozen other young people in Naskapi literacy and grammar. They are all very interested in reading the Naskapi scriptures too.

Two new illustrated publications containing stories from the life of Christ are also being produced and distributed. Since the publication of the New Testament in 2007, interest in reading the Bible in Naskapi has steadily increased.

Norma Jean is helping in the area of Naskapi language literacy and scripture-use by being involved in training Naskapi educators at the school to be more effective in teaching reading, and she is also coordinating the production of high quality beginning reading materials for Naskapi families.

We are also very happy to have our daughter Elizabeth here with us, who has been working at the Naskapi school and developing an art education program there. She has also been providing some of the illustrations for the new Naskapi readers.

You can look at (or purchase!) the growing collection of Naskapi materials that we have been working on at the following website:

We Read Naskapi – (

We have been back at our home with the Naskapi at Northern Quebec since summer of 2009, and we are constantly humbled at the many ways that God has allowed us to join in His work here on the edge of the tundra.

Family News

Since Mother’s Day 2010 we have served as foster parents for a 3-year-old Naskapi boy named Jaiden. He has lots of energy and reminds us every day that we are old enough to be his grandparents! Our prayer is that his own family will be able to take him back into their care eventually. Meanwhile, the privilege, trials and joys of parenting a toddler (and as of Nov 25, his newborn baby sister Nina) remain ours.

Like we mentioned, our daughter Elizabeth has been with us since summertime. A very special young man that she met at Houghton College and who she served with teaching English in Korea came to visit with us this fall and earlier this month he asked our permission to ask for Elizabeth’s hand in marriage. We couldn’t be more pleased with Eric Stevenson and we are very happy for them both. Eric is also a graduate of Houghton College and is a very talented musician. Elizabeth and Eric have performed together and you can hear (and see!) some of their work here:

“Pocket Vinyl” (

Ben and Tamika are in Baltimore: Ben works for a company called “Brightline Interactive” (an award-winning digital services agency Our granddaughter Nya turned 3 years old in October, and our grandson Arion will turn 2 in January. Tamika coaches Lacrosse as a break from mothering two toddlers.

Nick just turned 20 and is working full time in Connecticut near his grandmother, Bill’s mom.

Please continue to pray for: Our co-translators Silas and Tshiueten, Elizabeth and Eric as they plan their future together, Ben and Tamika and the grandchildren and for Nick.

Pray that God’s Spirit continues to speak to the lives of Naskapi people in the language of their hearts through His word, and that we too remain sensitive to His voice and ready to serve Him as we live among them here.

Mailing addresses:

Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz
Box 2363
Schefferville, Quebec G0G 2T0 CANADA

418-585-2664 (not a cell phone)

Elizabeth–same address as us
through June 2011