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Supporting the revitalization of Indigenous languages

Indigenous Languages

Prince’s Trust Canada recognizes the impact that language and culture have on identity and well-being, and the essential role played by language revitalization in the path to reconciliation.

From 2016 to 2020, we supported projects to revitalize and protect Indigenous languages. This work took various forms including developing partnerships to produce children’s books in Indigenous languages and has resulted in the distribution of close to 25,000 children’s books across 94 titles in 16 different languages.

These resources support elders, parents, teachers and healthcare providers as they share important lessons and inspire an interest in language learning among the youngest members of their communities.

This work wouldn’t have been possible without the creativity, talent and expertise from a number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous authors, illustrators and translators, and the support of our generous donors.

A special thanks to:
First Nations University of Canada
Government of Canada
Inuit Tapirit Kanatami
Andy & Valerie Pringle
The Printing House
SayITFirst and Mike Parkhill
One Laptop Per Child Canada
Yukon Native Language Centre
The W. Garfield Weston Foundation

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UPDATE FOR 2020

In 2019/2020 we engaged in a consultation process with an Advisory Group composed of Indigenous community leaders and academics. Each member provided tremendous expertise, guidance, wisdom and insight about our role as an ally in language revitalization.

Through this process we recognized that language revitalization projects must be led by Indigenous communities, and as a non-Indigenous organization, our part should be to support and advocate. Further, as a non-Indigenous charity that must raise funds to deliver programs and services, we are committed to ensuring we do not compete with Indigenous-led organizations for funding that should rightfully be directed to them.

Our work with the Advisory Group resulted in the creation of a set of principles for working with Indigenous communities, which we have called our “Working with Intention” guidelines.

We look forward to continuing to learn as we apply and build on these principles in our new role and to deepening our commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous communities through other areas of our work, including sustainability and youth employment.

We would like to express our appreciation to every member of our Advisory Group for their valuable contributions. Our staff and Board were humbled by all that we learned from them.

Children’s books


Prince’s Trust Canada has partnered with Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, creators, translators and organizations to produce and publish children’s books in several languages including Southern Tutchone, Cree (Plains, Swampy, Woods), Saulteaux, Dene, Nakota, Lakota, Dakota, Ojibwe, Oji-Cree and Inuktitut.

An accompanying app was created for the books to allow children to follow along while listening to a native speaker narrate the stories. The books and app have been widely distributed to libraries and schools and given to students from kindergarten to grade three.

First Nations University project brings Cree children’s books to Sask.
CBC News, March 2017

Prince William and Kate to deliver book written in rare native tongue to indigenous children
Toronto Star, September 2016

Revival of endangered aboriginal language empowers speakers in Yukon
The Globe and Mail, October 2016

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Indigenous languages colouring books

In 2018, as part of our commitment to supporting the revitalization of Indigenous languages, we partnered with Nelson Publishing, First Nations University of Canada and the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre to create colouring books in Swampy Cree, Ojibway and Oji-Cree.

We approached our Artist-in-residence Patrick Hunter, a Woodlands artist from Red Lake, Ontario to illustrate and write the colouring books. Children in schools across northern Ontario received their own copies of the colouring books.

Thank you to the Department of Canadian Heritage for funding the project. You can download a copy of the book using the links below. Either the phonetics or a pronunciation key is found at the end of each book.

Things to Colour from Mother Earth – Swampy Cree
Things to Colour from Mother Earth – Ojibwe-Cree
Things to Colour from Mother Earth – Ojibwe

Beautiful Words from Turtle Island – Swampy Cree
Beautiful Words from Turtle Island – Ojibwe-Cree
Beautiful Words from Turtle Island – Ojibwe

CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL BOOK PROJECT

 

The Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg and the Thompson General Hospital collectively serve most of Manitoba as well as the North West Territories and Nunavut. They receive over 120,000 visits a year with more than 50% of the children being Indigenous.

In 2017, the hospitals identified a need to provide books to children written in Indigenous languages. Prince’s Trust Canada partnered with the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre, First Nations University of Canada, SayItFirst and the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba to produce a series of Indigenous language children’s books, available at the hospitals.

Five illustrated children’s books in Cree, Ojibwe, Oji-Cree and Inuktitut were produced, and in 2018, new funding from Canadian Heritage expanded the project to reach even more children and their families. Three new books were produced for the Manitoba hospitals and the original five books were translated into Mohawk, Plains Cree and Saulteaux and distributed through the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation, Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Jim Pattison Hospital Foundation in Saskatchewan.

THE TRADING TREE

The Trading Tree tells the story of a very old sugar maple standing on the shore of Lake Simcoe. Written by Nancy Cooper, a band member of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, and translated by Myrtle Jamieson (Waaseyaankwot Kwe), the story teaches children about how Indigenous and early settler families traded goods and stories at the tree.

In May 2019 Prince’s Trust Canada and Clearwater Farm, an educational farm dedicated to helping children grow, collaborated to publish The Trading Tree in Ojibwe and English. In keeping with the story’s roots in our shared history, copies of the book were printed on Canadian-made, FSC certified, recycled paper. The launch of the book was celebrated on Clearwater Farm, at the foot of the Trading Tree itself, with a reading by Myrtle Jamieson.

The book has been nominated for a 2020/2021 First Nation Communities READ Award.

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INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES

2019 was the United Nation’s International Year of Indigenous Languages.

We were delighted that HRH The Prince of Wales opened the International Conference on Indigenous Languages held in Victoria, B.C.. The conference brought together Indigenous leaders, language experts and advocates from more than 20 countries to share their knowledge, experiences and best practices. His Royal Highness’ message drew attention to the importance of Indigenous language revitalization in Canada and around the world.

We were honoured to coordinate with our partners to make this powerful piece of advocacy possible.

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“Indigenous culture, knowledge and languages make an important contribution to our world’s rich cultural diversity. They also contribute much wisdom to peace building, sustainable development, good governance and reconciliation.”

– His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
2019 International Conference on Indigenous Languages

 

SayITFirstOne laptop per child CanadaInuit Tapiriit KanatamiFirst Nations University of CanadaGovernment of Canada