Off to Labrador

Our Dear Partners,

Like last year, we are about to take another trip to visit the Mushuau Innu community of Natuashish on the Labrador coast to help them with language development work and to encourage them about having a translation project in their own language. Once again, we are bringing three Naskapi mother-tongue translators who have worked on the Naskapi Bible translation and school curriculum in Naskapi with us, to help the Mushuau Innu to understand what this can mean to their community. Most of you will remember that the Mushuau Innu community is the Naskapi’s nearest relative linguistically, and Naskapis and Mushuau Innu can understand each other pretty well when they speak to each other.
As usual, to get to Natuashish is not an easy trip: three separate airlines: (1) Air Inuit to fly south to Wabush, Labrador; (2) Provincial Airlines to fly east to Goose Bay, Labrador; (3) Innu Mikun Airlines to fly north to Natuashish. The bookings and schedules also require three days to get there as well–so we will get to spend some time in Goose Bay too, en route.

In fact for this trip, Norma Jean has been invited by the Innu school board to conduct workshops for the Innu-speaking classroom assistants in both the Sheshatshiu school (near Goose Bay) and the Natuashish school on the coast. So Norma Jean and I will spend a week in each community. The workshops will include making and using native language materials in the school setting so that children can learn to read their mother-tongue better.

The Naskapis will join us for the second week, when we go to Natuashish. The Naskapi like to call Natuashish their “sister community”, since the people from both communities originally came from the same group of nomadic caribou hunters from northern Labrador and the Ungava Bay area. But their histories that diverged around the beginning of the 20th century resulted in two very different writing systems and some dialect differences that we are just learning about:
Besides the classroom literacy work that Norma Jean will be doing, the Naskapis are also going to assist with a beginning translation principles workshop to help the Mushuau Innu see that they too could participate in a translation project for their church and community.

Our hope is that we could help support the Mushuau Innu in establishing their own language development project that would also include work on the scriptures in their mother tongue, just as we have for the Naskapi community. The participation and enthusiasm of our Naskapi co-workers a key part of this visit.

Norma Jean and I leave for the Sheshatshiu community near Goose Bay this Friday, and spend a week there. The Naskapi will meet us there the following Friday (Sept 21) and accompany us to Natuashish for the second week. Then we will all return to Schefferville on Sept 30.

Please remember all of us in prayer as we travel and work together, and for us to be sensitive to all that God has for us during these next two weeks.

Remember our friend Andrew Laengert too as he returns home from his four weeks as a Wycliffe Canada intern with us. We know that God has used his time together with us too in his own life and in ours. Here’s that link to his blog about his time here: 

Thank you all for your interest in and support for our work here in the north.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Naskapi Elections 2012

Our dear partners,

Those of you in the US are following the Democrats and Republicans, and those of you in Quebec are watching the PQ, CAQ and Liberals in their provincial debates, but here at Kawawachikamach there is an election that is much closer to home for us.

The 3-year term for the Chief and Council is up for the Naskapi Nation, and the elections for Chief and Council is today. All day, from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM people will be coming to the community center to vote on paper ballots: The current chief, Louis Einish, is running for another term, and he has two opponents, Isaac Pien and Michael Sandy. And among the 5 open positions for council, there are 15 candidates running.

I will assist in the vote-counting this evening between 8:00 and midnight. Pray for wisdom, peace and calm, (and stamina!) along with God’s guidance for the right choice of leadership in the Naskapi community and nation.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

PS, back in Kawawa we are working on finishing up the read-through of the proof copy of the book of Genesis, along with several other Naskapi literacy, literature and education projects.

A History of the Naskapis of Schefferville

This post is to announce the release of a new transcription of A History of the Naskapis of Schefferville, by the late Alan Cooke. In 1975 the Naskapi negotiators for the Northeastern Quebec Agreement (NEQA) asked Alan Cooke to “…write this history as a partial means of clearing up certain misunderstandings and misapprehensions that have recurred at negotiating tables while discussing the Naskapis’ relation to the James Bay Agreement…”

While the History has been useful to the fortunate few who have had access to it, it remained buried in the files of the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach and the Naskapi Development Corporation (NDC) and a few other places until recently.

Because Bill had the need for a textbook to use to teach some of the culture and history component of the “Naskapi” class in the Naskapi-McGill Teacher Education program, he prepared this transcription from the original copies in time to be used by the class this spring. Having received permission from Naskapi Nation council, it is being released to general readership in the Naskapi community and beyond.

As Bill writes in the 2012 postscript to Alan Cooke’s history: “…Since that time more than 35 years have past, and thirty of these have been a time of growth and self-determination in their own community of Kawawachikamach…With the current resurgence in resource development in the north, the Naskapi community is taking advantage of the increased opportunities and moving forward toward greater economic success. Further, a revival of Naskapi interest in their own identity and heritage has resulted in an increased participation in hunting, fishing and other traditional activities along with an increase in motivation towards Naskapi literacy among young people and younger adults, with the result that the Naskapi language and culture is being passed to the next generations. We look forward to the day when they tell their own story in their own words.
—Bill Jancewicz, Kawawachikamach, April 2012″

A 72-page 6″ x 9” paperback version of the transcription, illustrated with selected photographs from the Naskapi Development Corporation archives, containing annotations and newly-drawn maps is available for purchase from this website.

This book takes it’s place now along side the growing number of Naskapi language books and resources published by the NDC here.

Northern Translation Brief: Naskapi-McGill Class

For three weeks in March Bill was “guest professor” for the Naskapi III class at the Naskapi-McGill Teacher Education course. A cohort of over a dozen of the brightest Naskapi young people in Kawawachikamach are enrolled as undergrad students with McGill University under the First Nations and Inuit Education (FNIE) department.

McGill Naskapi III Class

The local Naskapi school in the community has set up a classroom that, for all intents and purposes, is part of the McGill University campus in Kawawa. Since September of 2010, these students have followed university-level courses to prepare them to serve as educators in their own community. The organizers of the program, seeing the importance of the Naskapi language in this community, have also included courses in Naskapi reading, writing and grammar, taught by Bill and with guest appearances by Norma Jean (for Naskapi children’s literature and curriculum).

The most recent Naskapi class was held from March 13th to the 29th, in which the students studied Naskapi language structures (grammar) covering kinds of words, noun inflection, plurals, and applying grammatical features to reading. They also improved in their oral and silent reading skills of Naskapi syllabic texts, and practiced their typing of Naskapi as well.

Each of the classes that Bill has taught them also has a strong component of Naskapi culture and history, because eventually these students will be teaching Naskapi classes of their own. This class we read “A History of the Naskapis of Schefferville” by Alan Cooke, a previously unpublished manuscript that was first written in 1976, but has now been transcribed and made available in book format, now available with the other Naskapi language resources here.

Norma Jean teaches about Naskapi childrens’ books

Bill is pleased to report that all the students did very well and improved a great deal in their ability to read and write Naskapi. Two of his students have recently agreed to serve as “Lay Readers” in the Naskapi church, where for the past several weeks they have been reading the Naskapi scriptures during Sunday services. It is very encouraging to see the strong and growing interest in Naskapi reading and writing among adults since the publication of the Naskapi New Testament in 2007. We are anticipating some ongoing involvement in providing this kind of capacity-building training for the Naskapi community as they take more of the responsibility in maintaining and sustaining their own language.

Bill teaches Naskapi linguistics

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz.

Naskapi 2012 Scripture Calendar

As in previous years, we have prepared a Naskapi language Scripture calendar for distribution at Kawawachikamach, in partnership with the Naskapi Development Corporation. The pictures this year feature archive photographs of “Naskapi Places”.

If you have followed our translation work with the Naskapi over the years, you may have learned that the Naskapi people did not always live here near Schefferville, Quebec–the ancestors of the current Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach were nomadic caribou hunters who traveled over vast tracts of the interior of the Quebec-Labrador peninsula. Since their first contact with Europeans in the 1830s, the records of their travels became linked to the establishment of Hudson’s Bay posts in their territory.

The earliest photograph (for January) is of a Naskapi encampment near Fort Chimo in 1884, attributed to Lucien Turner, who wrote one of the earliest descriptions of Naskapi ancestors for the Smithsonian Institution (Turner, Lucien. 1894. “Ethnology of the Ungava District, Hudson Bay Territory”. in: Eleventh Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution, 1889-1890. Washington, Government Printing Office.)

Each month of the calendar provides a chronological account in photographs of the various locations where the Naskapi were settled from 1884 to the present-day. Accompanying each picture, there is a scripture passage selected for the month, in the Naskapi language and in English.

Further, each month is presented in the Naskapi language, with Naskapi days of the week, and an indication of special days and the seasons of the church calendar that correspond to the Sunday Lectionary (see the posts here and here for more about the Lectionary).

The calendar also has a few bonus pages this year that contain a brief history of the Naskapi people’s migrations from the mid 1800s to the present.

This year, as in previous years, a beautiful printed version of the Naskapi calendar is available along with other Naskapi language materials from for just $8.

We are also running off locally-printed versions of the calendar (on the photocopier) on request distributed from the NDC office in Kawawachikamach. Local residents can purchase a copy at the office for $5.


TV Snack (Chex Mix) for the Holidays

TV Snack

My paternal grandmother, Stella Jancewicz, aka “Grammy” hosted most of our holiday gatherings when I was a young child. She lived on Podurgiel Lane in Uncasville, next door to my Aunt Betty and Uncle George, and our cousins Charles (Chuckie), Mary Beth, Christine, (Chrissy) and Paula (Paula Sue) Scopelitis. Besides the usual holiday turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, she would cook traditional Polish Christmas Eve food, and (for us kids) she would make a snack that we all called “TV Snack”. Later in life I learned that this was not such a unique food: the back of every box of Ralston Purina Chex cereal had a recipe for something like it. But for me there are important differences. The main difference is Cheerios. Of course, now all cereals are manufactured by multinational corporations, and General Mills brand also covers all the Chex varieties. But Cheerios belong in “TV Snack”, and are never found in the traditional “Chex Mix” recipes.

We moved our young family out of the country in the 1980s to follow our work to northern Quebec, and now those holiday gatherings on Podurgiel Lane are just a distant memory. But by making a batch of TV Snack / Chex Mix between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am able to recall those days, and find that time, the grace of God, the real meaning of giving Thanks and remembering the Birthday of Christ are able to heal, forgive and make whole any hurts we carried from our childhood. My own children do enjoy a bowl of Chex Mix during the holidays, and so I try to get some of my own recipe to them each year as well.

Here are some pictures of this year’s batch along with my own annotated recipe:

Bill J’s Chex Mix Recipe

1 box Corn Chex (14 oz, 396 g)
1 box Rice Chex (12.8 oz, 362 g)
1 box Wheat Chex (14 oz, 396 g)
1 box Cheerios (14.1 oz, 400 g) (TV Snack recipe)
1 can mixed nuts (10.5 oz, 300 g)
1 can cocktail peanuts (10.5 oz, 300 g) (TV Snack recipe)
1 can potato stix (10.5 oz, 300g) (Bill J recipe)
1 box/bag thin pretzel stix (14.1 oz, 400 g) (TV Snack recipe)
1 cup butter or margarine
6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons salt (or seasoning salt, or sea salt)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder

Pour cereals into large paper shopping bag: Pour back and forth between two such bags until well-mixed

Meanwhile, heat up butter or margarine in a pan on the stove, adding Worcestershire sauce when melted. You can also add some of the salt and powder seasonings to this butter/Worcestershire sauce mixure.

Get some big rectangular cake pans, (I use four 13″ x 9″ x 2″ cake pans; they fit in the oven on two racks) spread out the cereal mix in the pans. Spoon butter/Worcestershire sauce mix over the cereal, and sprinkle with the other seasonings. (Do the first seasoning in two layers; pour half the cereal mixture in, then spoon on half the butter/seasoning mix. Then pour the rest of the cereal on top, then spoon on the rest of the butter/seasoning mix.)

Put the pans in the oven at 250-300 degrees F, and let the mix bake for about 20-40 minutes.
Take them out, pour the mix back into the paper bags (back and forth bag to bag) and mix them again. Spread the mix out in the pans again, spoon more butter/Worcestershire sauce mix over the cereal again, sprinkle again with seasonings, and bake for another 20-40 minutes.

If you like you can repeat this mixing/seasoning step again. (I like to do it three times, and even melt some extra butter if necessary. Just ask Julia Child)

When cool, put into airtight tins or Tupperware. Freeze some of it for later. Give some away, but only to those who might appreciate it.

Based on the original recipe (below) and Grammy’s “TV Snack” recipe (see “TV Snack” references above. Grammy also would add potato-chip crumbs or whatever else she had around. For my recipe, the potato-stix make up for this, and adding a can of peanuts is for Grammy’s warning: “Don’t just pick out the peanuts!”. Thin pretzel sticks and Cheerios are the main difference between Grammy’s and the Original. I would not think of making this without the Cheerios and thin pretzel stix.

In a pinch, you could use “Krispix” instead of Chex. But only in an emergency. To make Chex Mix in Canada you need to plan ahead and import the Chex cereals in advance. (the other ingredients are available here)

Original Recipe follows:

3cups Corn Chex® cereal
3cups Rice Chex® cereal
3cups Wheat Chex® cereal
1cup mixed nuts
1cup bite-size pretzels
1cup garlic-flavor bite-size bagel chips or regular-size bagel chips, broken into 1-inch pieces
6tablespoons butter or margarine
2tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4teaspoon garlic powder
1/2teaspoon onion powder

Original recipe has you melting the butter in the same pan/bowl that you mix in, but I like my method better for a more consistent flavour.

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Bill J

PS: Don’t pick out the peanuts.


Northern Translation Brief 14Dec2011

God’s Word for Christmas!

As you know, we have been working on the translation of the Old Testament passages that are read in the Naskapi church each Sunday. This list of readings, called the “Lectionary” begins anew each Advent season, the four Sundays before Christmas. Also, there are three years of such readings. “Year A” always begins on the First Sunday of Advent in years that can be evenly divided by 3 (e.g., 2013, 2016, 2019, 2022 etc.).  Year B follows, and then year C until the cycle repeats every three years.

This means that the current Advent season begins the “Year B” cycle of readings. In the weeks leading up to the First Sunday of Advent 2011, we worked hard to finish the Naskapi readings for Year B. These were ordered and arrived the week before Advent began, in time to be distributed and used in church on November 27.

Naskapi Lectionary Year B

Read with me some of what this book contains in Naskapi:

“But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you our potter; and we all are the work of your hand. 9 Don’t be furious, O LORD, neither remember iniquity forever: see, look, we beg you, we are all your people.”

(Isaiah 63:8) 1st Sunday of Advent

…and this wonderful encouraging passage:

“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak comfortably to Jerusalem; and call out to her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.” The voice of one who calls out, “Prepare the way of the LORD in the wilderness! Make a level highway in the desert for our God.

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The uneven shall be made level, and the rough places a plain. The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it.”

The voice of one saying, “Cry!” One said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, because the LORD’s breath blows on it. Surely the people are like grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God stands forever.”

You who tell good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who tell good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with strength. Lift it up. Don’t be afraid. Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold, your God!” Behold, the Sovereign LORD will come as a mighty one, and his arm will rule for him. Behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will gather the lambs in his arm, and carry them in his bosom. He will gently lead those who have their young.

(Isaiah 40:1-11) 2nd Sunday of Advent

We are so grateful that this and hundreds of other verses are now in the Naskapi’s hands and in their hearts.

This book is available along with all our other Naskapi books here: or at the Naskapi Development Corporation’s on-line store here:

This week's Bible reading

We will miss being with family this Christmas, but we are looking forward to spending this Christmas with the Naskapi people in Kawawachikamach.

Enjoy every blessing that this Season brings!

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean


Northern Translation Brief 26Sep2011

Our Dear Partners,
We would like to thank you for your prayers for us as we traveled to the Mushuau Innu community of Natuashish on the Labrador coast. We are very happy to report a good trip, a warm welcome, and many good and positive contacts with regard to helping the Mushuau Innu language community to take some steps towards building capacity to start a local translation project into their dialect. The Naskapi Mother-Tongue Translators who work with us at Kawawachikamach, Phil, Silas and George, were very encouraging to their Mushuau Innu speaking counterparts at Natuashish. Indeed, speakers from the two communities, Naskapi and Mushuau Innu, have very little difficulty in understanding each other’s speech.

Naskapi MTTs and the Mushuau Innu chief and deputy

We met with the Mushuau Innu leadership at their council office, including the chief, Simeon Tshakapesh, and the councillor in charge of education, Simon Pokue. We also spent time at the Natuashish school, and made some important contacts there for Innu language literacy and helping to establish consistency in spelling.

We discussed the possibility of Bible translation work with Sister Sheila, who serves the parish church at Natuashish, and also with Cajetan Rich, who serves in the church as one of the Innu language lay-readers. Cajetan helped us with a draft publication of a church book, providing us with recommended spelling changes and revisions.

We are grateful for hospitality and assistance from workers with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador, who serve the community by hosting a Sunday School and the school breakfast program. We were provided with an excellent opportunity to meet with the Hon. Peter Penashue, the first Innu Member of Parliament, who was visiting in the community at the time.

Meeting with Hon. Peter Penashue MP

Finally, representatives from the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) were in Natuashish meeting with local leadership, and they took the time to also meet with us to learn about how language-based development work has benefited the Naskapi community, and how it could also be applied in the Natuashish community.

To top it all off, back at Kawawa three days after getting back ourselves, we were unexpectedly visited by an entourage from the Natuashish community: The Mushuau Innu band council chartered two aircraft and flew direct from Natuashish to Schefferville with 28 visitors, including their chief and deputy, some elders and youth, and various other leaders in their community. They toured the Naskapi community, got re-acquainted with relatives, and met with the Naskapi translation department where we work on Bible translation. They were very interested in learning from the Naskapi team how they might establish a similar initiative in their own community.

Monique Rich and Norma Jean

Now that we are back here in Kawawa working on Naskapi Old Testament and literacy, and the Mushuau Innu have gone home to Natuashish, we are looking forward to seeing what God is going to do in both communities.

Thank you for continuing to pray for both of these communities, their response–and ours.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Northern Translation Brief 06Sep2011

Our Dear partners,

We are preparing for our second trip to the Mushuau Innu community of Natuashish on the Labrador coast. As most of you remember, this community is closely related to the Naskapi in the interior; in fact their recent ancestors were the nomadic caribou-hunting families of the barren grounds of what is now Quebec and Labrador. Some of these families centered their trading around Kuujjuaq (Fort Chimo) near Ungava Bay and the rest were settled around Utshimassits (Davis Inlet) on the Labrador coast, since the early 1900s.

The Fort Chimo group moved to the Schefferville region in 1956, and they are now the Naskapi of Kawawachikamach.

The Davis Inlet group relocated to Natuashish, a new community built on the mainland in 2002.

The Mushuau Innu community is well known in Canada because of widely publicized social problems:

<Natuashish on CBC>

Because of their shared history, the Naskapi language spoken where we work in Kawawachikamach is very close to the speech variety spoken in Natuashish. But there are significant differences that developed over the past 100 years due to contact with outsiders:

  • The Naskapi live in Quebec, the Mushuau Innu live in Labrador
  • The Naskapi live inland, the Mushuau Innu live on the coast
  • The Naskapi write in Canadian Syllabics, the Mushuau Innu write in a Roman orthography
  • The Naskapi are Anglicans, the Mushuau Innu are Catholics
  • The Naskapi are in the Quebec school system, the Mushuau Innu are in the Newfoundland school system

In the spring of 2008 we tried to take a trip to Natuashish, but we were hindered by foggy weather on the coast.

Bill and two other Naskapi colleagues made it there in April of 2010 for a four-day visit.

Bill and Norma Jean will be leaving Friday, 9 September with his co-worker (and former Naskapi chief) Phil Einish, and mother tongue translators Silas Nabinicaboo and George Guanish.

For an interactive Google Map (zoom in and see the Natuashish village) try this link:

<Kawawa to Natuashish>

On Friday we are scheduled to fly south to Wabush, in western Labrador, and then east to Goose Bay in central Labrador. Sunday, 11 Sept we are scheduled to fly north to Natuashish on the coast, spending five days there before returning back the way we came starting Friday, 16 Sept.

The goals of this trip include presenting the possibilities of a community-based language development project that would include scripture translation into the Mushuau Innu language for Natuashish.

Thanks for your prayers for good contacts, travels, and outcomes.

Pray for us: “that our love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that we would be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” Phil. 1:9
(The apostle Paul expresses it better that I can.)

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