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← Voices on the Rise: Indigenous Language Revitalization in Alberta - Episode 1

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Mostrare Revisione 20 creata 08/15/2020 da Michel Smits.

  1. ♪[Music]♪
  2. - [Eli] I'm fascinated with
    the way language is central
  3. to our world view as indigenous people.
  4. I'm a Néhiyaw artist and curator living on
    Lekwungen territory in Victoria, BC.
  5. My personal research centers
    around language revitalization
  6. and how it connects us
    to our cultures and lands.
  7. Over the past few years, I've been
    on a journey to learn the Cree language.
  8. It's been a challenging and
    incredibly rewarding experience.
  9. Now I want to travel to Alberta,
    where my ancestors are from,
  10. to discover the ways that
    different communities
  11. are revitalizing their languages.
  12. My mother and I both grew up
    not knowing anything about our Cree family
  13. because she was adopted out at birth
    as part of the Sixties Scoop.
  14. Twelve years ago, we met our Cree family,
  15. and since then I have been in a process
    of connecting with the community
  16. in Wabasca, Alberta,
  17. the place where my kohkom,
    my grandmother Florence, was born.
  18. I recently met Nora Yellowknee,
    an administrator at the local school,
  19. Oski Pasikoniwew Kamik.
  20. After realizing that
    we were second cousins,
  21. she offered to help me learn
    about my family tree.
  22. [Nora] You have your grandmother, --
  23. Florence.
  24. And her mother is Isabelle.
  25. And then, I'm here.
  26. And your grandmother. And your mom?
  27. Fancine.
  28. [Nora] They are first cousins
    or second cousins.
  29. - [Eli] Okay.
    - [Nora] And you're down here.
  30. [Eli] I'm down there?
  31. [Eli] Yeah, this is more than, --
  32. a lot more than I knew
    before I met you, before I came up.
  33. [Nora] Yeah, that's Isabelle.
  34. Nohkom Isabelle.
  35. This means a lot to me to see this, --
  36. again, --
  37. because the more that I see it
    the more that I hear about this
  38. and talk about it.
  39. It's going to stick and --
  40. I now understand more and
    know more through that process
  41. [Nora] My dream for the language here,
  42. starting with the school, is to have
    our people who speak the language,
  43. speak it every day,
  44. because we are not getting that.
  45. There are many Cree speakers working here,
    but they are not speaking it.
  46. For people, the young families now,
  47. the young mothers
    speak Cree to their children.
  48. And all the rest of it will follow.
  49. Seeing a photo of my kohkom Florence
    as a young woman
  50. created a sense of
    healing and re-connection
  51. after feeling disconnected
    for most of my life.
  52. Knowing more about
    my family's history has allowed me
  53. to connect deeper with my ancestors.
  54. There is so much more to discover
    but, like learning the language,
  55. this will take time.
  56. The Kapaskwatinak
    Cultural Education Center
  57. is a place for the Children of Wabaska
  58. to connect to the land and their culture.
  59. Knowledge Keeper Lorraine Cardinal
  60. helps guide the children
    through land-based education
  61. including coming-of-age ceremonies.
  62. I'm excited to learn about these teachings
  63. since I didn't have the opportunities
    to experience them,
  64. growing up disconnected
    from community and family.
  65. [Lorraine Cardinal] The reason that --
  66. I do these things, like the coming-of-age,
  67. because it's also my responsibility
    as a Néhiyaw school
  68. to protect the children,
  69. creator's children.
  70. And when I'm protecting
    creator's children, --
  71. we need to teach them those protocols,
    we need to teach those values.
  72. They need to know them so that they don't
    end up getting hurt in the future.
  73. And that shame of our language,
    and who we are, and our ceremonial ways;
  74. losing those has caused
    big destruction in our communities.
  75. Because our children,
    as they're growing up,
  76. they know who they are, they came
    with the gift of knowing who they are.
  77. I have a responsibility to pass
    those teachings on to other children too,
  78. because they will experiment,
    they will explore,
  79. and we want to prevent them
  80. from hurting each other
    or hurting themselves, right?
  81. [Drumming and chanting]
  82. [Lorraine Cardinal] They call that
    oskinîkiskwew ēkwa oskinîkîwiw,
  83. young manhood and young womanhood.
  84. I want to thank you and honour you
    for coming into this world.
  85. You are a blessing to us.
  86. We are so very honored to have you
    as part of us, nêhiyaw-iskwêw.
  87. Always remember to hold your head up,
    don't be ashamed and --
  88. always accept yourself for who you are,
  89. and honour those gifts
    you brought with you, --
  90. and welcome into womanhood.
  91. Welcome.
  92. It truly is a blessing
    and an honour to have you
  93. as a young nêhiyaw-iskwêw,
  94. A young nêhiyaw woman.
  95. Welcome.
  96. [Children talking]
  97. [Lorraine Cardinal] Somehow, someway --
  98. fear got instilled in us
    as indigenous people.
  99. Shame got instilled in us
    as indigenous people.
  100. Our children, what they
    experienced here today
  101. taught them how sacred they are,
  102. how important they are,
  103. how beautiful they are,
  104. and that they're not just
    beautiful in physical form.
  105. that they're beautiful
    in spiritual form too.
  106. All we need to do is believe in them,
  107. to love them, and to tell them
    they're important.
  108. They'll start feeling good
    about themselves.
  109. I'm proud of them.
    Their spirit is still alive and well.
  110. What do you see being the way forward
  111. so that these young ones
    in the community --
  112. can not only understand the language
  113. and its relationship to their spirit,
  114. and their relationship to the land
  115. and each other and themselves,
  116. but be speaking it?
  117. How do you feel about --
  118. the future of the language
    in these next generations to come?
  119. We have to believe in ourselves
    to be able to do it, --
  120. and we need to set our goal.
  121. And if it's revitalizing the language,
    then let's do that.
  122. How did we learn Cree?
  123. We learnt it sitting around
    with the old people,
  124. visiting each other and --
  125. our parents speaking to us, you know?
  126. So we can get it back.
  127. We just need to do it.
  128. John Bigstone is a Wabasca elder who carries
    vast spiritual and ceremonial knowledge.
  129. He invited me to the land where
    he holds sweat lodge ceremonies
  130. to share teachings about the spirit
    within our languages.
  131. [Music]
  132. [Inhales deeply]
  133. It clears your mind when
    you breathe in this smudge.
  134. English language is inadequate --
  135. if you're going to describe spirit.
  136. Anything of spirit.
  137. It's inadequate.
  138. They named it according to their
    connection to that plant
  139. because they spoke to the plant
  140. They had a connection.
  141. They had a connection to all of life.
  142. They understood their environment.
  143. They understood that
    everything was alive, --
  144. and your spirit has
    a connection with that spirit
  145. of mother earth and everything
    that grows on her body.
  146. Prior to contact, everything was
    described in a more spiritual way.
  147. Mîtos you know,
    has a spiritual meaning.
  148. Sihta as in spiritual meaning.
    That's the poplar and the spruce.
  149. I stutter coming back to the language
  150. where our families have
    had these interruptions --
  151. of residential school, the 60s' scoop.
  152. I'm curious what your thoughts are --
  153. about those of us with this blood in us,
  154. and whose ancestors
    have spoken the language,
  155. and whether you think that
    we have it inside of us
  156. just waiting to come out, --
  157. this bone memory or
    blood memory of the language.
  158. Yeah, it's in your DNA.
  159. It's programmed in there already.
  160. You just have to wake up that programming.
  161. That's why you're here, see?
  162. It's that programming,
    and your spirit guide.
  163. You've got to remember,
    there's a spiritual aspect to this.
  164. You're never alone.
    You never walk alone.
  165. Your ancestors,
  166. your Cree ancestors, walk with you.
  167. They're assigned to you
    to guide you where you need to be.
  168. That's the beauty of
    this understanding of spirit.
  169. It happens in spirit.
  170. We are the result of spirit in action.
  171. We become material.
  172. That's a deeper teaching.
  173. But the reality is, every one of us
    have spirit guides around us.
  174. I was on kind of a lost path
    before I found my way to my first lodge.
  175. And it's interesting to think of these --
  176. European modalities or
    academic ways of describing
  177. how things are working.
  178. And the way that I explain it to people is
  179. I don't know how it's working,
    I just know it is working for me.
  180. And it's not something I'm trying
    to figure out up here,
  181. I just know it's working down here.
  182. And I think it has connected
    my heart and my spirit
  183. in ways that weren't happening before.
  184. When I say a prayer
    in the social gathering,
  185. I say it in Cree
  186. because it's an insult to my ancestors
    if I pray in English.
  187. It's the very thing
    that oppressed me as a child.
  188. I can't do that.
  189. I have to speak and pray in Cree.
  190. That's what I do and
    I explain, you know, why.
  191. Because I'm not praying to the people.
  192. I'm praying to the spirits
    that are guiding me.
  193. They don't have to understand
    what I'm saying.
  194. Because as long as a spirit hears,
    the spirit will come.
  195. And they understand my language,
    the Cree language.
  196. Once I identify myself, they say,
  197. "Huh, our grandson is praying.
    Let's go support him."
  198. That's the beauty of our language.
  199. What happened to our language --
  200. came from the time of
    the residence in school,
  201. the first time it was introduced, --
  202. not only the Cree
    but the many tribes themselves.
  203. When they took away the children, --
  204. they took the children away
    from the land, --
  205. the language, their ancestors,
  206. their grandfathers, their grandmothers,
  207. their teachers, their parents,
    their aunts and uncles.
  208. That's when the separation happened.
  209. They broke that connection.
  210. So when he took us away, --
  211. they severed that connection
    to all of those things.
  212. We were taught a foreign way of thinking.
  213. I was programmed as a child.
  214. Now, I have to deprogram myself,
    sometimes referred to as decolonization,
  215. as they gave us that colonized mentality.
  216. And it just did not fit with our paradigm,
    how we saw our place in creation.
  217. At some point, somebody's got to wake up.
  218. One day, you've got to say,
    "Hey, there's something wrong here."
  219. This is the time.
  220. That's why we're here.
  221. To wake the people up.
  222. To wake ourselves up.
  223. Still be the guiding light, you know.
  224. There is a different way.
  225. So, it's about connection.
  226. That's what was severed --
  227. in the time of the residential school.
  228. We lost connection to our spirit.
  229. It replaced the creator
    outside of us instead of in here.
  230. We're trying to mend that rift.
  231. That's what you're doing.
  232. That rift that was caught;
  233. you are the stitch that is bringing
    those two worldviews --
  234. but to where they start
    respecting our way,
  235. the Cree way.
  236. When you have love, when you feel love --
  237. and somebody tells you something
    that your spirit is looking to hear
  238. like, "Welcome home."
  239. Where do you feel it?
  240. Right here. You're connecting.
  241. You'll always have
    that sense of belonging --
  242. because you come home. Yeah.
  243. So once you come home,
    you know where to come
  244. next time you're out there, wandering, --
  245. you have a connection there.
  246. You've made some connections already here.
  247. You're no longer disconnected.
  248. I left my conversation with John
    feeling like I belong
  249. in a way that I've never felt before.
  250. It was an incredibly
    powerful experience
  251. that made me feel more
    connected to my spirit.
  252. Tell me again, like,
    your family story with Wabasca.
  253. My mother grew up there,
    my father grew up in Grouard, --
  254. a couple hours away,
  255. and she didn't want
    to raise me on the reserve.
  256. So as soon as they found out
    about me, they moved away.
  257. And when we move to Edmonton,
    through the teen years,
  258. through my adult years, that's when
    the reconnection really started to happen,
  259. going home more happen.
  260. Before that, I would only visit,
    like, holidays, few times a year.
  261. Dusty Legrand is the creator of
    the clothing label Mobilize Waskawēwin.
  262. Using the ancient writing system
    of Cree syllabics and his designs,
  263. he's making the language
    visible to a new generation.
  264. Yeah, so this was the --
  265. - it has the --
    - Oh yeah,
  266. the different languages,
    tribes of the north.
  267. Yeah, it tells the story of --
  268. a bunch of people.
    And it was really special to hear, like,
  269. the feedback from different people
    that had never seen
  270. their nation represented on a ....
  271. There were certain people that;
    this was like their first time.
  272. They're like, "I'm just buying this just because
    I've never seen my nation represented."
  273. Yeah, then I put revolution down the arm
    just to let them know what's going on.
  274. [Laughs]
  275. I've been always wanting
    to create a clothing brand.
  276. So to be able to create something that
    can empower indigenous youth
  277. and educate them
    on the indigenous history,
  278. on the future, on values
    and what it means to be indigenous.
  279. So Mobilize was a way that
    I could give voice to the voiceless.
  280. I could give a voice to the youth.
  281. To do it in a different way
    than I had seen being done, --
  282. it was very important to me.
  283. To do it completely different,
  284. to represent the funky people,
    to represent the different people,
  285. to represent everybody
    that's ostracized that way
  286. and especially as indigenous people,
    like, that's been done to us.
  287. Okay.
  288. So this is the first drawing of this shirt.
  289. So, a lot of, like, the pieces will come,
  290. and they'll come at certain times,
    when I'm driving,
  291. when I'm listening to certain things.
  292. And they'll come and if I don't write it
    the way it's supposed to be,
  293. the idea won't stay.
  294. I want to try to encompass all of Canada
  295. and I'm gonna try to reach
    as many as I can.
  296. So for me this was like a lot of studying,
  297. a lot of research to try to see
    as far east as I could go
  298. and see what nations are there.
  299. And that's what is special
    about the language I find.
  300. It's that the stories, and the purpose,
    and everything exists within the language.
  301. That's in kind of a place
    that it's been locked.
  302. And it remains, and even though --
  303. the assimilation
    has taken a lot of, like, --
  304. our connection to community,
    our ceremonies, our practices.
  305. The language has kept all of that.
  306. How did you get the Cree word?
  307. Yes, well, the Cree word is
    on the back of this one here.
  308. Okay.
  309. So I just keep it as like Mobilize
    is the English version
  310. and then Waskawēwin,
  311. which is the Cree word for movement,
    is the Cree element that comes in.
  312. Mobilize didn't have a translation.
  313. But I also didn't want to
    just translate mobilize,
  314. I wanted to use movement
    as the word.
  315. So one thing that I really liked
    about the word waskawēwin
  316. was the presence of
    the triangular symbols,
  317. and for me these represented,
    like, two tipis
  318. and kind of represented
    the tribe that way.
  319. Being a part of Reuben's class
    was really special to understand
  320. the fundamentals of and to learn
    the history of the star chart
  321. and to learn the history of syllabics.
  322. Yeah, it was like learning
    indigenous history
  323. through the spirit mechanism.
  324. That was really special.
  325. He kind of just takes you back
    and he tells you the stories.
  326. And he takes you
    through a journey through story
  327. of the significance of the numbers
    of the grandfather directions,
  328. the grandmother directions.
  329. Yeah, înîw.
  330. And what does that mean, înîw?
  331. It's a collapsed word.
  332. Iyiniw actually is the way it's said.
  333. From what I understand; --
  334. talk a little bit about colonization --
  335. and taking over lands,
    the lands of original people; --
  336. what I understand,
    first thing you got to do is
  337. you got to get rid of
    those people's deity, the name,
  338. and replace it with yours
    when you're colonizing people.
  339. So our dename for Néhiyaw people was , --
  340. and we have a different paradigm
    as far as dogma is concerned.
  341. You are aîs, I am aîs,
  342. so a diminutive of .
  343. So aîsînîw.
  344. But this is a collapsed version
    of that iyiniw, înîw.
  345. Wow, 3D.
  346. Iskotew.
  347. Iskotew.
  348. Fantastic.
  349. So we have a relationship with the earth,
  350. and that relationship is that
    we relate to her as mother.
  351. So she when she brings forth
    those different people --
  352. the plant people, the different ones,
  353. that's sâkipakâw coming
    out of the trees, out of the grass.
  354. And so she's showing us what love is.
  355. It's practical.
  356. So she'll give us all of this.
  357. We will be nurtured by it.
  358. The dandelions somewhere
    and different grasses.
  359. The four-legged people will eat from that.
  360. We will, in turn, get our sustenance
    from the four-legged people,
  361. but she's giving us all of that,
    showing us that love.
  362. Now, sâki is the morpheme of that word.
  363. And if I were to say to you,
    "I love you," I would say ki-sākihitin.
  364. Some people say ki-sāki-itin,
  365. and I say ki-sākihitin.
  366. That's how I've been taught: ki-sākihitin.
  367. I love you or you are loved by me.
  368. So that's a good word to learn
    to say to your loved ones.
  369. That's one of the only words
    that I know to say to my partner.
  370. [Laughs]
  371. Yes, and see how that
    it's coming into bloom.
  372. It's gonna start blossoming.
  373. It'll continue to grow and then
    it'll go through its cycle, --
  374. just like we will come into
    a relationship with others.
  375. This really sticks out to me,
    when I came here last summer, --
  376. as a special place.
  377. Not only Amy's piece, but the other artwork
    and it's kind of perched over the river.
  378. When did you begin learning about
    syllabics and the spirit marker system?
  379. When we were liberated
    from residential school,
  380. probably 1970 or 1971,
    I don't remember.
  381. I was just young.
  382. and the late Rosana Hole and
    late Caroline Hunter would come in
  383. and teach us about them, me and my peers.
  384. So that's when I started learning
    the system that I know about.
  385. And it was made so simply
    for me to learn it --
  386. that I passed it on
    the way that was taught to me,
  387. and I guarantee that people
    will master that writing system.
  388. I always tell the ones
    that are coming in to learn,
  389. "Take your page and go to the center."
  390. I tell them, "That's where
    we're gonna start off."
  391. because we're used to writing
    from the top to the right,
  392. left to right, left to right.
  393. But in this one, --
  394. you go from the center
    and you start from inside.
  395. So there's the center there.
  396. I'll go left of center
    and write the first one, --
  397. and that's this one here.
  398. This one is a phonetic language.
  399. So that one says ah.
  400. And it's also the sound.
  401. The first sound that people will make --
  402. when they're praying and worshiping.
  403. They'll say something like, "â-kisemanito".
  404. They'll describe that supreme being --
  405. and the supreme being's name,
    this part of this as well. Ā.
  406. Ā someone then will say,
    "Â-Mâmaw-ôhtâwîmâw", --
  407. describing again.
  408. They'll endear themselves
    to that supreme being
  409. by calling that supreme being
    father of all.
  410. "Â-Mâmaw-ôhtâwîmâw".
  411. So I say, "ah-hay" in recognition.
  412. There's you, me and the supreme being.
  413. [Eli] "Ay-hay".
    [Reuben] "Ay-hay".
  414. A lot of people say, "hi-hi"
  415. - That's what I've learned.
    - That's probably --
  416. how you've heard it quite a bit.
  417. So that one near says, "â",
    this one says "pa"
  418. There's that "pah-pe"
  419. So, it goes: "â", "pa", "ta", "la".
  420. And there's four of them, like I said,
    going off into the east:
  421. "Mi", "ni", "yi", "si", "ki", "ji", "ri".
  422. And there's seven of them, like I said.
    There's seven tectonic plates --
  423. going off into the south,
    is the same vowel sound.
  424. And then into the southwest,
    there's what I like to call the anomaly.
  425. It's a e vowel sound.
  426. "Me", "ke", "ne", --
  427. "ye",
  428. "se", "je", "re".
  429. A vowel sound "o".
  430. And thank you Dr. James Makokis
    for correcting me on that.
  431. I used to go "oh", borrowing from English.
  432. She said that, "O isn't it ooh?"
  433. and I said, "Hey yeah, that's right."
    "O", "wo", "po", "to", "lo".
  434. And then they're smaller --
  435. and these are way smaller
    than the big ones, big spirit markers,
  436. small spirit markers here.
  437. To complete --
  438. what Dr. Marilyn Shirt
    has called the star chart.
  439. So the one I told you, --
  440. "Ki-sâ-kih-itin", --
  441. that's, "You are loved by me or I love you."
  442. Kisâkihitin.
  443. Yeah, "Ki" - "Kisâkihitin".
  444. So that's the writing system there.
  445. My hope is that it will help
    to instill pride in those --
  446. for those young people --
  447. because this is a racist country --
  448. and it was born out of racism.
  449. And of course racism disconnects people.
  450. This one connects us.
  451. And all have access to it, --
  452. whatever ethnicity you are from.
  453. It all makes sense to everybody.
  454. It can make sense to everyone
    and we can start connecting.
  455. What they taught us
    in the residential schools
  456. is that we were worth less than Europeans.
  457. And this one teaches us that:
    "Pahpeyakwan iyikohk".
  458. We all have the same measurements
    as far as humanity.
  459. Our DNA says that we're all the same.
  460. I want to thank you so much
    for sharing about this because --
  461. I can see the the brilliance
    and sophistication --
  462. within the way you've shown and explained,
  463. and it piques my interest
    and makes me want to learn more.
  464. It makes me want to move out here
    so I could take one of your classes.
  465. - [Reuben] Yeah.
  466. Thank you so much for sharing this.
  467. An honor and a privilege.
  468. ♪[Music]♪