Northern Translation Brief 14Jan2023

Our Dear Partners,

We are grateful for your interest in the Lord’s work through us and your prayers for us. We are excited to share with you some good news about some recent developments in God at work in Bible Translation for First Nations communities in Canada.

The Naskapi Development Corporation Head Office in Kawawachikamach

In a Northern Translation Brief more than two years ago now, we shared with you some of the challenges that the Naskapi Translation Project was facing as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold: Since 2020, there have been no full time language workersat the Naskapi Development Corporation, the local agency that sponsors the Naskapi project.

Here’s a link to that story: [Northern Translation Brief 11Sep2020].

You may also 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 Naskapi-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 Development Corporation leadership decided to make a fresh start in rebuilding their language and culture department. They began by creating a new professional-level position that they called the “NDC Cultural Development Officer”, and invited me to assist them in recruiting, hiring and training a local Naskapi speaker to fill this position.

To come right to the point, after conducting interviews with candidates in November, the NDC hired Marianne Chescappio to this role, and this January she began her training and mentorship under my guidance. She begins her second full week on the job at NDC this Monday.

Marianne taking classes with the first Naskapi-McGill cohort in 2013

Since graduating from the Naskapi-McGill program in 2014, Marianne has served as a family and youth wellness counselor for the Naskapi Nation, and more recently as a counselor at the Naskapi community women’s shelter. She already has a heart of service for her community, language and culture.

Each morning these days, Marianne meets with me over Zoom to learn about and work with the various Naskapi language projects that the NDC is responsible for, improving her skills in Naskapi language grammar, literacy and writing that she will need to carry out her new role.

We also are working our way through becoming familiar with all the digital resources (computer programs, apps, keyboards, websites) that make the scriptures in the Naskapi language accessible to her people.

During our afternoon Naskapi Translation Zoom meeting, Marianne joins in, beginning to take her role working with the team. This week, after our usual greetings and prayer, Marianne, Ruby, and Silas all shared what it means to them to participate in the language development and translation services for their community:


Marianne: I feel happy and privileged—I have always wanted to have this kind of job, working with our language and gaining capacity in these skills that are so connected with our identity as Naskapi people. Working with the translation helps my self-esteem and my own mental heath, being a part of connecting our people with the Creator and our culture.”


Ruby:I’ve always envied those who were working on the Naskapi translation project, but did not have the confidence in my own reading ability to join them. Since I have started working with the translation team several months ago, my own ability has improved, and working with the Bible gives me comfort and peace in my life.”


Silas: Even though I have retired from my full-time position in the language department, I did not want to retire from working on the Naskapi Bible Translation. I want to do all I can so that my community can have the whole Bible in their hands. I enjoy using every spare minute I have now to work on the Naskapi translation.”


After encouraging each other (and me!) with these words, we spent the remainder of the afternoon team-checking the first three chapters of the book of Deuteronomy in Naskapi. Besides moving this translation project along toward our publication goal, it provides hands-on experience for Marianne as she continues to grow into her new role in the Naskapi Language project.

Silas reads the book of Deuteronomy in Naskapi as the rest of us follow along

We thank God for the answer to your prayers by calling Marianne into her new role in the Naskapi language project.

  • Pray for Marianne as she continues to learn and grow in her new position, and for the selection of just the right other team members to work with her as the Naskapi community rebuilds their language department and their capacity.
  • Marianne also asks for prayer for her parents, who are recovering from a rare disease; for her daughter Pamela and son Kautinat who are struggling with addictions; and for her daughter Tamia, who has moved to North Bay, Ontario for post-secondary studies.
  • Continue to pray for Silas, Bill, Ruby, and Marianne, 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 has completed her treatments for cancer—her follow up visit with her doctor scheduled for this month has been delayed.
  • The Naskapi book of Exodus is currently being type-set by the Canadian Bible Society in preparation for publication: Pray for steady progress and a good outcome; and also for the completion of the remaining work on the recorded audio files so that Naskapi speakers may also listen along with the translated text.

    Thank you for your kind 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

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 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

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

Read and Listen to the Bible in Naskapi

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

The Scriptures are a verbal message from God, in words. We sometimes call it the “Word of God”. God has gone to great lengths to communicate His love to us, both in words in a Book, and in giving us His Son (the story of which we also read about in a book… in Hebrews 1:1-2).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Northern Translation Brief: 22Jan2020

Our Dear Partners,

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

David at his home Bible study with the late Sandy Nattawappio

God’s Word at Work

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


They arrived in the community just before Christmas.

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your part in this.

Serving with you,
Bill & Norma Jean

Northern Translation Brief: 18Nov2019

Our Dear Partners,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serving you with joy,

Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz