Northern Translation Brief 13Sep2017

Our Dear Partners,

Norma Jean and I returned from our fall trip to the Naskapi Translation Project at Schefferville and Kawawachikamach late in the day Monday 11 Sept 2017. This trip had multiple purposes—mainly to connect with Alice & Martin Reed, who have been serving their 8-month internship there with the Naskapi translation project since March, and to bring Matt & Caitlin Windsor with Hazel there to begin their own internship with the Naskapi.

Caitlin, Matthew & Hazel Windsor ready for their trip to Northern Quebec

Why are we all with the Naskapi?

You may recall reading about the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative on these pages. God is at work bringing his message of hope and love into First Nations communities across Canada. The Naskapi community continues to be an inspiration and example to other First Nations language communities to have the Word of God in their own mother tongue too. These language communities have asked for help doing this–and God has blessed us by growing our team with the Next Generation of Language Program Facilitators, like the Reeds and the Windsors. They have been invited to serve in the Naskapi language program as “Linguistics Interns”, as they learn to live in an isolated northern First Nations community and work along side the Naskapi translators in their language program.

The trip went well, and we feel that Alice & Martin have been doing very well serving the Naskapi project since their arrival there last March. They have been helping the Naskapi team and administration to focus and prioritize their Bible translation projects and to move them along with manageable and concrete goals. Several more chapters of Exodus have been team-checked for consistency and naturalness under Alice’s guidance, and a publication of the book of Psalms in Naskapi is underway. At the same time, they have made remarkable progress in language learning, integrating their lives into Naskapi community and culture, and building deep relationships. They will be ready to move on to their own assignment by the first week of November. More about that below.

Alice & Martin Reed taking part in local activities at Kawawachikamach

Matthew & Caitlin survived the long, long road trip with us starting on August 20, and then the train trip to Kawawa on August 24, arriving around midnight. They moved into Ruby Sandy-Robinson’s house which had been vacated (and cleaned and prepared) by Alice & Martin a couple days before. Alice & Martin were offered to house-sit at another Naskapi house in the community a few doors away from Ruby’s house where they were staying. This allowed the Windsors to have more space which they needed at Ruby’s house. Ruby remains very happy to host the interns in her home.

Cait & Hazel in the “soup” aisle (ᓱᐸᐳᔾ), Matt & Cait at the translation office

Dr. Marguerite MacKenzie, a linguist from Memorial University in Newfoundland, also came to work at the Naskapi Development Corporation offices on the review and editing of more Naskapi stories and legends, as she has done for the past several years in the month of September. Recently Bill coordinated the production of the next Naskapi story book ᐃᔅᒂᒋᐛᑎᓂᓱᐅᒡCaught in a Blizzard, which, like many of the recent Naskapi books was illustrated by our daughter Elizabeth. The new print copies arrived at Kawawa during this trip.

We were very encouraged by the way that both new Wycliffe teams, the Reeds and the Windsors, worked together and with their Naskapi hosts. We ask that you remember to pray for them during the next few weeks of “overlap” between the two teams, as the Reeds complete their internship in November and the Windsors stay on with the Naskapi until April of next year.

Serge & Minna

Norma Jean and I stayed in our old house in town in Schefferville, and came to Kawawa to work with the Naskapi language staff and community each day. We were also working on the house getting it ready to rent or sell: we met with one couple who came up from Parole de DieuInstitute Biblique Bethel  (Word of Life–Bethel Bible Institute) in Sherbrooke. This couple is listening for God’s call in their own lives for ministry among the Naskapi and Innu people in Quebec: their names are Serge & Minna Lauzon. We are waiting and praying with them for direction concerning our house in Schefferville: they may be in a position to rent or eventually buy the house, depending on how God leads them in the weeks to come. They spent four days at our house there with us during the two weeks we were there ourselves. Won’t you pray for them with us?

Before Norma Jean cut the grass…

The Naskapi translation team continues to work on the team-checking and review of the book of Exodus. There are still some style and naturalness (and consistency and acceptability) issues that the team is working through. The linguistics intern teams will be guiding the translation team toward the completion and publication of this book in the weeks to come. They also are helping the Naskapi develop a long term translation and scripture engagement plan that provides the Naskapi community with an Old Testament panorama that can be achieved by focusing their efforts on chronological selections from the remaining Old Testament. And this with continued work on the Naskapi dictionary, grammar and literacy.

The Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree translation committee has invited Matthew & Caitlin to come live with them at their community in Northern Ontario very soon after their internship is completed in April of next year.

Matt & Bill with the Kingfisher Lake Translation Committee in July 2017

And there are several Swampy Cree communities to the northwest of the Oji-Cree in northern Manitoba that have indicated an interest in having Alice & Martin come to work with them there. Bill will be visiting Swampy Cree speakers and church leaders at a clergy conference at Thompson, Manitoba in October. Please pray that God will make His plan and His will clear to all concerned, so that this language and all the other First Nations language groups in Canada that have been waiting for the scriptures in their mother tongues won’t have to wait too much longer.

Thank you for your prayers for us over the many miles and days of this trip, and for your continued prayers for the Naskapi, Cree, Innu and Oji-Cree; and for the Windsors and the Reeds and others who are being called to join in what God is doing in the north.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz

PS: as a reminder, please take the time to visit the websites of the Next Generation as they serve the Naskapi and continue to walk in obedience and faith, and as they prepare themselves to help other language groups experience the joy of hearing and knowing God’s Word in their own languages.

Alice & Martin

https://www.facebook.com/ReedsKaleidoscope/

Matthew & Caitlin

https://thewindsorsupnorth.com/

…and scroll down to see more pictures of our time with the Naskapi community!

11:00 pm and STILL not sleepy!

Jaiden at church

Community gathering at the ballfield

Alice in her “Pow-wow” dress

Martin with the drummers

Mr Bill & Mama Jean hanging out with Jaiden

Bill and David Swappie–he reads the Naskapi Bible every day.

Norma Jean with Suzan Swappie–…so does she.

Jaiden came for dinner

School cook-out

Norma Jean pitches in

Back home on the train

Northern Translation Brief 20Jun2017

Our Dear Partners,

In less than 4 weeks the Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree community begins their 2017 Vacation Bible School (VBS) program to help connect the children of their community with the truths of the Gospel in the Oji-Cree language. By teaching through the days of God’s Creation as told in the first chapters of Genesis the children will learn how great God is, the wonderful world He has created, and that He loves them very much.

Immanuel CRC Church and St. Matthew’s Anglican Church

God has also been building a bridge between our partner churches in the south and the First Nations church in the north. The Sunday School staff of St. Matthew’s Church, Kingfisher Lake is presenting this summer’s Vacation Bible School with the help and support of many of you who read these messages and pray for us, and especially Immanuel Church in Simcoe, Ontario which is sending a team to work alongside the indigenous teaching staff, helping with the various details of conducting the Bible School activities, games, snacks and teaching sessions.

Ashley Booth, Amy Lewis, and Elly Vandermeer

Ashley Booth (age 14), Amy Lewis (age 15) and Elly Vandermeer (age 13), three teens from Immanuel Church’s youth group will be accompanied by Ann Rauwerda. The church and the other teens in the youth group have joined together to help to raise the travel funds and purchase needed materials for this outreach to their new First Nations friends in Kingfisher Lake. Because of the remoteness of this isolated northern Ontario First Nation, the air-travel costs are challenging: each person’s airfare alone was nearly $1800 for the round-trip from Toronto. But the church and other funding partners have been generously supporting this ministry and we are confident that God will provide all that is needed.

Ann Rauwerda (standing) with Bill & Norma Jean and the girls at the Mothers’ Day Breakfast

To help raise funds, the church has conducted a “hire-a-teen” campaign, served “Mothers’ Day” and “Fathers’ Day” breakfasts at the church, and ran a church-wide “yard sale” of donated items which has raised a good portion of the funds needed to purchase and to ship the Bible School materials. But more funds are still needed in the coming weeks.

Ashley and Amy taking donations at the Mothers’ Day Breakfast

Busy kitchen crew at the Fathers’ Day Breakfast

Hungry men at the Fathers’ Day Breakfast

Our lovely and talented daughter Elizabeth has been also raising funds to accompany the team on this trip to Kingfisher Lake, and has already applied her artistic talents towards illustrating the days of God’s Creation for the new, locally and culturally appropriate teaching materials that are being developed by Norma Jean and and team.

Elizabeth at work

Creation Day Five: Birds and Fish–each species in Elizabeth’s illustration are found in the Kingfisher Lake region.

Also coming on this trip are Bible Translation facilitators-in-training Matthew and Caitlin Windsor, with their small daughter Hazel (ᐘᐱᑯᔑᐡ – waapikoshiihsh). Matthew and Caitlin have just completed their pre-field requirements and are spending time with us at our home in Ontario before beginning their in-field internship period with the Naskapi First Nation Bible Translation program.

Caitlin, Matthew & Hazel Windsor

So including little Hazel, there are ten of us traveling to Kingfisher Lake for this ministry event. We leave from the Toronto Pearson airport on Friday, July 14th and stay overnight in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Saturday, July 15th we travel on to Kingfisher Lake. We will meet with the Oji-Cree teaching team over the weekend on July 15 and 16, and the Vacation Bible School program will start Monday morning at the Mission House in Kingfisher Lake.

Oji-Cree children at Sunday School craft time

The younger children (Kindergarten through grade 3) will come each morning to the Vacation Bible School program, and the older ones (grade 4 through 8) will come to their own program presented in the afternoons by the same team.

The VBS team will stay in rooms at the Mission House and will prepare their own meals and eat together at the mission house between the VBS sessions all week long, Monday through Friday. As much as possible, the Bible lessons and Gospel message will be presented by the Oji-Cree staff to the children in their own language, while the visiting team will present in English, having their part interpreted when necessary by the Oji-Cree staff. Teaching materials are being prepared that include Elizabeth’s original artwork along with recently-translated passages from Genesis in Oji-Cree.

Day Four of Creation: Plants and Trees

11 ᑭᔐᒪᓂᑐ ᑭᐃᐦᑭᑐ, “ᐋᐦᑎ ᐊᐦᑭ ᑕᓂᑖᐃᐧᑭᒋᑫᒪᑲᐣ ᑳᓇᓈᑲᐃᐧᓈᑲᐧᑭᐣ ᑭᐦᑎᑳᓇᐣ, ᒦᓇ ᒦᓂᔖᑎᑰᐣ ᐁᑲᐧ ᑲᔦ ᒥᐦᑎᑰᐣ ᐊᐦᑮᐣᐠ ᑳᐊᔮᑭᐣ ᑳᓂᐦᑖᐃᐧᑭᒋᑫᒪᑲᑮᐣ ᒦᓂᔕᐣ, ᐃᐦᐃᒫ ᓇᓈᐣᑐᐠ ᑳᐃᔑᓈᑲᐧᐦᑭᐣ ᒥᓂᔖᑎᑰᐣ.” ᒦᑕᓑ ᑲᐃᓯᓭᐠ.

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.

After the program finishes on Friday, July 21st, all the “girls” on the visiting team will pack up and depart to go back south on Saturday, July 22nd, leaving Bill and Matthew to continue on at Kingfisher Lake for a few more days, so that they can work with the new Oji-Cree translation team there after the VBS program.

On Wednesday, July 26th Bill and Matthew will depart to rejoin the others back home in southern Ontario.

As you realize there are many details that must be attended to in order to accomplish this vision that began with St. Matthew’s Church Oji-Cree Sunday School class at Kingfisher Lake. Please be in prayer for the entire “away” team flying up from the south:

  • Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz
  • Elizabeth Jancewicz
  • Matthew & Caitlin Windsor and little Hazel
  • Ann Rauwerda
  • Elly Vandermeer
  • Ashley Booth
  • Amy Lewis

Also, please remember to pray for the Oji-Cree “home” team at Kingfisher Lake:

  • Ruth Kitchekesik
  • Jessie Atlookan
  • Theresa Sainnawap
  • Zipporah Mamakwa
  • Saloma Sainnawap
  • Ruth Morris
  • Naomi Beaver

Pray for the transforming work of God in the lives of all the children and the teaching teams as well, for His provision, protection, and grace as we come together in His name and with His message.

Thank you for your part in God’s mission.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz

PS:

There are still three ways that you can support this project:

1) You can sponsor the VBS workers from our church by sending a cash donation to:

Immanuel CRC Church
95 Oak Street
Simcoe, Ontario, Canada
N3Y 3K1

You can also donate online here:
https://www.imaginegod.ca/index.php/donate,
and click the “donate now” button.
Be sure to indicate that the donation is for: “Summer VBS missions trip”

2) You can help sponsor our daughter Elizabeth to work on the project and join the trip:
Visit her Etsy web page for information on how you can support her and for the creative ways that she will thank you!
https://www.etsy.com/listing/528242497/summer-camp-fundraiser

https://www.facebook.com/donate/905338069094/911912169544/

3) You can pray every day for our team by name, and walk with us on our journey.
normajean_jancewicz@sil.org

bill_jancewicz@sil.org

 

 

Northern Translation Brief: 2017 Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) Workshop

Our Dear Partners,

Ever since First Nations representatives and church leaders met with us in Prince Albert in June of 2014, we have been responding to their priorities identified for the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative. One of these priorities was to coordinate a series of Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) Workshops to help the speakers of First Nations languages acquire the skills that they need to take the lead in their own Bible Translation and community language development projects.

We planned and coordinated the 2017 Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) Workshop at the Guelph Bible Conference Centre from April 9th to the 14th. Speakers of First Nations languages from three different language communities were able to come to the workshop this year.

Travel Delays and Challenges

In the weeks leading up to the workshop, we had also planned an additional translation checking session for the Oji-Cree translation team: They were to come to southern Ontario the week before the workshop and gather at our home in Windham Centre with the translation consultant (Meg Billingsley) and one of the new Bible Translation facilitation teams (Matthew & Caitlin Windsor). However, a relative of one of the Oji-Cree translators passed away that week, so they were unable to come down early.

With Matthew & Caitlin at Simcoe Immanuel CRC church before the workshop

We are grateful for all the offers of food, lodging and assistance that we received from our church family in preparation for this checking session, and even though it did not work out–we are happy that the Oji-Cree team was able to come to the workshop itself anyway. The translation team and the consultant are making alternate arrangements so that they can work through the scripture checking that they had planned.

Most of the Naskapi team had hoped to leave their community of Kawawachikamach by plane the Friday before the workshop–but a snowstorm on April 7th cancelled their flight. They were eventually able to rebook on Monday, the first day of the workshop, and arrived safe and sound (but tired!) a 1:30 AM Tuesday morning!

Silas Nabinicaboo

Silas, the senior translator for the Naskapi team, had to cancel his attendance at the workshop this year–while he was en-route, his mother Susie had heart problems and was flown out of the community to the hospital in Quebec City, where she eventually underwent an operation for a pacemaker. Silas stayed by her side rather than coming to the workshop.

So, of the 15 registered First Nations participants, 14 were finally able to come.

Participants

Coming for the first time were two experienced James Bay Cree translators from the Mistissini Lake Quebec community, Mary-Jane Petawabano and Juliette Neeposh. They had worked on the translation of the New Testament in their language and came to find out about starting to translate the Old Testament too.

Mary Jane Petawabano and Juliette Neeposh, from Mistissini Lake, Quebec

The Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree community sent five of their Bible translators, who continue to work on their new translation of the Gospels and Epistles for the Sunday Lectionary readings. Four of their translators, Ruth Kitcheksik, Jessie Atlookan, Zipporah Mamakwa, and Dominick Beardy had already been to previous workshops. They brought with them a new member of their team, Saloma Sainnawap, who came to this translator workshop for the first time. Two other members of the Oji-Cree translation team who had attended previously had to stay behind at Kingfisher Lake: Ruth Morris and Theresa Sainnawap.

Jessie Atlookan, Saloma Sainnawap, Zipporah Mamakwa, Ruth Kitchekesik and Dominick Beardy from Kingfisher Lake, Ontario

The Naskapi language community of Kawawachikamach sent translators and language personnel from three of their community organizations: The Naskapi School sent Naskapi language teacher Seasi Swappie, and the Naskapi Nation sent their lead translator George Guanish and the editor of the Naskapi newspaper “Naskapi Tipachimoon”, Isaac Einish. This was Isaac’s first time at a translator workshop outside his community.

Isaac Einish, Seasi Swappie & George Guanish from Kawawachikamach Quebec

The Naskapi Development Corporation (NDC), which is continuing work on the Naskapi Old Testament translation, sent four participants: Tshiueten Vachon, Amanda Swappie, Kabimbetas Noah Mokoush and the NDC administrative director, Ruby Sandy-Robinson. As noted earlier, their senior translator Silas Nabinicaboo was unable to attend.

Naskapi team working together

Program

Like in previous years, the program of the workshop was crafted to meet Bible translation training needs of the First Nations translators. Since this was the third workshop, and many of the participants had been to similar workshops in the past, just a brief time on the first day was spent doing review, so that all the new participants could find their way alongside the more experienced ones.

“Bible Translation Principles” and “Bible Translation Basics”

The core curriculum was from the translation textbook “Bible Translation Basics: Communicating Scripture in a Relevant Way” by Harriet Hill. We have used this book since 2015, and we are slowly working through it with plenty of review at a pace that can be followed by the translators. We are also using more conventional translation training materials, such as “Bible Translation: an introductory course in translation principles” by Katy Barnwell, and other materials. We also featured a special topic again this year taught by Steve Kempf, an international translation consultant, on “Translating in the book of Proverbs”.

Steve Kempf on Proverbs

We also focused on a range of other practical topics, including the use of cell-phone technology for scripture engagement, participatory methods for domains of language use in a community, and the important role of oral story telling in presenting the message of the Bible, and teaching skills to use computer and software tools to help with understanding the Bible’s message better, and to help with the translation work.

Staff

Besides Bill and Norma Jean who coordinated the workshop and taught some of the lesson modules, we were privileged to have many other teaching staff on hand this year from a wide range of experience and background.

As noted above Steve Kempf was with us on Tuesday and Thursday for the focus on translating Proverbs. We were also assisted by translation consultant Ruth Heeg, Canada Institute of Linguistics (CanIL) professor Jeff Green from Tyndale University College, and Canadian Bible Society (CBS) director of scripture translations Myles Leitch, all of whom taught lessons in sequence from Bible Translation Basics.

Jeff Green with Ruth Kitchekesik and Dominick Beardy from Kingfisher Lake

We were also very pleased to have the following “Next Generation” members of the team on the teaching staff this year: Alice & Martin Reed, currently serving their in-field internship with the Naskapi translation project; Matthew & Caitlin Windsor, also preparing to serve as Bible translation facilitators to First Nations communities, and Meg Billingsley, translation consultant-in-training working in Cree projects.

Meg Billingsley’s teaching module

Alice Reed (standing, right) with the Naskapi translation team

Matt Windsor’s teaching module

Catherine Aldred-Shull’s presentation

Canadian Bible Society translation officer-in-training Catherine Aldred-Shull was also on hand to demonstrate a Cree Bible reading cell phone app and present her research on oral storytelling as it relates to Bible translation.

Terri Scruggs, Ruth Heeg, Liesel Bartlett

Wycliffe Canada projects manager Terri Scruggs was with us for the entire week and presented a compelling module to the translators on the importance of sharing how the translated scriptures are having a positive influence in their own First Nations language communities, and Wycliffe translation facilitators Rod & Liesel Bartlett guided the participants in learning to craft chronological Bible stories in their own language. Rod & Liesel have served for many years working with the James Bay Cree First Nations communities in Quebec, helping guide two separate New Testament translations to completion–one in James Bay Cree (southern or inland dialect, 2001) and one in the northern dialect of James Bay Cree, just published by the Bible Society at the end of 2016. The staff and participants took time to praise God and celebrate His faithfulness to the James Bay Cree communities during the workshop.

Juliette Neeposh, Rod & Liesel Bartlett, Mary Jane Petawabano, Ruth Heeg

Guests

We were pleased and honoured again this year to have a visit from the National Indigenous Bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada, Mark MacDonald. He came to address the participants and to encourage them in their work of bringing the message of the scriptures to their own language communities. He reminded us again that the message of the Gospel is the one thing that the more it is translated, the more we as the Body of Christ gain and know of the love of God.

Mark MacDonald encouraging the translation teams

Esther Wesley, the coordinator of the Anglican Healing Fund along with Nancy Hurn, the archivist of the Anglican Church of Canada were also on hand to meet and encourage the First Nations participants.

Elaine Bombay, a member of the Wycliffe News Network photojournalism team, served the workshop by being on hand Monday and Thursday to interact with participants, hear their stories and take wonderful photographs, many of which are featured here in this article. Thank you for these pictures, Elaine!

Colin & Dot Suggett, Wycliffe Canada team currently serving in Burkina Faso, was on hand to observe and get to know the First Nations participants–they are seeking the Lord’s direction for how they might contribute to the Bible translation movement among First Nations. Also on hand was Ben Wukasch, Wycliffe Canada candidate, Jeff Westlake, and Jack & Joann Koetsier, Wycliffe Canada partners.

Colin & Dot Suggett, Ben Wukasch

Also again this year Wycliffe Canada Korean Diaspora Church Connections 한인 디아스포라 교회 협력 team brought a group representing the Korean church, who continue to pray for, encourage and assist their First Nations brothers and sisters to have better access to the scriptures in their own languages. This year the First Nations participants were invited to pray for the needs of the Korean church. Many of the First Nations participants shared how blessed they were to reconnect with their Korean friends. Having guests attend the workshop is a good way for relationships to develop within the Body of Christ, since Bible translation remains the responsibility of the whole church (Kirk Franklin 2008)

Visitors from the Korean Diaspora Church Connections Team

Participant Evaluations

On Friday, the last day of the workshop, we took some time to reflect and evaluate the
workshop program, and all the participants provided feedback for the organizers to consider for the next workshop. Here is a sampling of some of the participants’ comments:

What was something new that you learned during this workshop?

“…Translating Proverbs.”
“…How to make my translation relevant to my community.”
“…How to record and edit audio using my laptop–really neat!”
“…Implicit and Explicit information in translation.”

What did you particularly like about this workshop?

“…The hands-on activities on language use within our communities.”
“…All the facilitators.”
“…I liked participating in small groups.”
“…Talking about Jesus.”
“…Teamwork, involvement in tasks.”
“…The sense of community and fellowship with other First Nations and ethnicities.”

What were the best aspects of the workshop?

“…When we got to work together.”
“…Hearing testimonies from experienced First Nations translators”
“…Hearing reading and singing in our languages.”
“…I felt like I fit in and that people were eager to help us, and that we were listened to.”
“…how everything was connected in the way the workshop was taught.”
“…being encouraged by one another.”

God continues to be at work bringing His message to His people in their own languages. We are so grateful that you can be a part of this work with us. Thank you for your prayers and support for this workshop and for the wonderful things God continues to do in the lives of our First Nations friends.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean

Alice & Martin Reed, Matthew & Caitlin Windsor

Consider becoming more involved and supporting this work by visiting these websites:

In the USA: https://www.wycliffe.org/partner/Jancewicz

In Canada: http://www.wycliffe.ca/m?Jancewicz

 

 

 

Northern Translation Brief: Kingfisher Lake Translation Checking

Our Dear Partners,

In the complex task of translating the Bible, it is helpful for a translation team to break the process down into manageable and measurable steps. The new Oji-Cree translation team is working on the project chosen by their church and community–that is, the scripture verses contained in the weekly (Epistle and Gospel) lectionary readings used in Sunday Services.

For each passage, the translation team work through steps in order to ensure that the translation in their mother tongue is clear, accurate, natural and acceptable.

  • The first step is the “First Draft“, which includes learning what the original passage means and then expressing that meaning in the translator’s own words.
  • The second step is a “Team Check“, during which the translator reads her First Draft to the other Oji-Cree translators in the translation team, and the team offers suggestions, corrections, or advice. The translator then makes appropriate revisions.
  • The third step is a “Community Check“. The text is printed and distributed in a preliminary form that other members of the community can read (or be read to), and the translator receives feedback and suggestions from Oji-Cree speakers of different ages in the community. The translator again makes appropriate revisions.
  • The fourth step is a “Back Translation“. A team member who did not work on the translation reads the text without referring to the original source, and makes a translation back into English. This English language back translation can now be used to verify whether the translation is complete and accurate.

You can see a progress chart showing these steps at one of our previous posts Northern Translation Brief 05Oct2016.

After the team accomplishes these four steps, the passage is ready for step five, a checking session with a Translation Consultant. A translation consultant is a person trained in linguistics, cross-cultural studies, Biblical languages and content, along with in-depth experience working in minority-language translation programs in the field.

In January 2017, the New Oji-Cree Bible translation team had their first “Consultant Check”.

Travel to Kingfisher Lake

On Monday Morning, January 23, Norma Jean and I drove to Ruth Heeg’s house in Waterloo, Ontario, and her husband Dick drove us to the airport in Toronto. Ruth brings extensive translation experience in a lifetime career of Bible translation in Wycliffe and also as a translation consultant with the Bible Society.

We met up with Meg Billingsley at the airport. Meg is a “translation consultant-in-training” and is being mentored by Ruth. Meg also has had several years of field experience in translation projects for Plains Cree in Saskatchewan and Mik’maq in Nova Scotia. We all checked in at the airport and flew together to Thunder Bay, Ontario, and spent the night there.

Ruth Heeg and Meg Billingsley

On Tuesday Morning, January 24, we got a message from the airline that serves the remote First Nations communities in Northern Ontario (Wasaya) that there were weather delays, and that our plane would not leave Thunder Bay until mid afternoon. So we had breakfast and lunch together. We had planned to arrive in Kingfisher by 10:00 in the morning on Tuesday. That was not going to happen now.

Waiting in Sioux Lookout

After flying to Sioux Lookout in the afternoon, we got on the late plane to Kingfisher, but it was still snowing and foggy, and so after flying up and “over” Kingfisher, the pilot turned the plane around and we went back to Sioux. By now it was 8:30 PM. So we spent one extra night en-route at Sioux Lookout.

STILL WAITING

On Wednesday Morning, January 25, we got up early to go to the airport, and we were put on the “waiting list” for the morning flight up north, which was also cancelled by weather. Finally, they put us on the late flight in a bigger plane (a Dash-8) so all the folks who could not get north in the past few days could all go together. The only hitch was that we were told that our bags would follow later. We finally got in to Kingfisher Lake at about 8:30 PM on Wednesday night after spending both Tuesday and Wednesday at the airports.

Translation Checking

The translation team was all ready to work on Thursday morning, and so we all sat down, had our greetings, our prayers and we got started. The translation team agreed to also work on Saturday afternoon because of our time in travel. We let the translation team and Bishop Lydia set the schedule.

Planning the workshop

Working on the text

Ruth K, Zipporah and Jessie

Each day we would begin with devotions and a Bible reading in the Oji-Cree language, prayers and a (Cree) hymn, and then I would turn over the workshop session to Ruth and Meg. I first briefed the team on the purpose of a consultant check, and then Meg got right into it with the passages that she had prepared. The entire team worked together, with one team member (Jessie) handling the updates and revisions to the text and another (Zipporah) updating the back-translation. All of the team participated and answered Meg (and Ruth’s) questions.

Other Scripture Engagement Activities

Their former Bishop of the Keewatin Diocese, Rt. Rev. David Ashdown, came for the weekend for services in the community. He preached in all the services, and they were well attended. One of the major Sunday services (the “English” service, held in the afternoon) was held in the school gym, being larger, and it accommodated the “blessing of the school”. At this service, the new Oji-Cree translation of the Epistle and the Gospel was read in the local language, and the translation was well-received by the large Oji-Cree speaking congregation in attendance.

Bishop Ashdown and Bishop Lydia also performed a consecration service for the new chapel in the lower level of the Mission House. It was named the “Chapel of the Holy Elders”, being named in honour of the Oji-Cree elders who were instrumental in the early Christian life and self-determination of the diocese of Mishamikoweesh.

Mission House Chapel

Service of consecration

Reading the scriptures

Bishop Ashdown signing the new vestry book

Norma Jean and I then participated in the new Sunday School that the translation team from Mission House has set up, in anticipation of the trip that we have planned to work with the Oji-Cree Christian Education team on Vacation Bible School this July. We are hoping to bring some people from our home church in Simcoe, ON to assist at this, Lord willing.

Kingfisher Lake Sunday School

Parents helping their children

Sunday School crafts

God made colourful caterpillars

Norma Jean also led the translation team in the production of a scripture engagement project, a church banner with “Love One Another” (ᓵᑭᐦᐃᑎᔪᐠ in Oji-Cree) on it, from John 13:34. The team participated in the design and some of the sewing, but somewhat less than usual, so that they could give more time to the consultant checking with the translation consultants.

Planning the Future

On Friday, Norma Jean met with the translation team and the Sunday School team to talk about a summer youth activity, “Vacation Bible School”. The Oji-Cree team suggested that the topic could be the story of Creation from Genesis. Norma Jean would be working with the translation team in the months to come to prepare culturally-appropriate Sunday School and Christian Education curriculum that more closely corresponds to indigenous life in the north.

The team told us that they wanted to be sure that the Gospel was clearly presented throughout the week, so that the children had an opportunity to hear and respond to the good news about Jesus. The Oji-Cree team also said that any helpers from outside the community should not simply come up and conduct the Vacation Bible School themselves–but rather that the activity be used to train the Oji-Cree Sunday School teachers and staff to learn how to conduct and present a Vacation Bible School program. With this in mind, each of the activities would be presented in both the Oji-Cree language and English, with the Oji-Cree Sunday School teachers fully involved in all activities with the Kingfisher Lake children.

The dates that they proposed for this summer’s Vacation Bible School activity in Kingfisher Lake are July 17th to the 21st, just after the Dr. William Winter School.

On Saturday, we met to talk with Bishop Lydia who shared her ongoing vision for the Oji-Cree translation project, future plans, and the kinds of support and help that they would like from us. She said that she will be meeting with some of the church leaders in the area of her diocese (in northern Manitoba) that speak the Swampy Cree language about the possibility of having a similar translation project started in one of the Swampy Cree communities that she has spiritual leadership over. She suggested that “Split Lake” or one of the other communities near there might be a possibility.

Bishop Lydia asked Bill to help her with her diocesan website, and also help to expand the Oji-Cree translation project so that so that the team can work on the translation of other Bible- and worship-related materials (such as Prayer Books, Christian Education Materials and Hymnals) into the Oji-Cree language.

ISMM Diocese Website “under construction”

When we discussed the future, which included having Meg continue to check scripture as it becomes ready, the question of regular communication with the translation team came up. The team suggested setting up a private Oji-Cree Bible Translators “Facebook Group” to do this. This way Meg or any other member of the team may be able to call them all together using a Facebook message to the group, and then ask consultant questions either on Facebook Chat or Skype.

Oji-Cree Bible Translator’s Facebook Group

Wrapping up the Workshop

The weather cleared on Monday, January 30, and we continued to work all day as before, with Meg doing most of the checking sessions. Bill also presented a training module about key Biblical terms (we accumulated a number of new ones in Oji-Cree during the checking) and how to use the Paratext computer program to keep track of these.

Bill also set up a new work computer for their newest team member Saloma Sainnawap, and he did general computer maintenance and software upgrades on all the other team computers. He also looked after equipment and “technical details” in general while Meg (and Ruth) ran the checking sessions.

Ruth K, Zipporah, Jessie and Saloma

As a new translation consultant, Meg handled herself very well with the Oji-Cree team, being sensitive to their needs and their level of ability. They said that they would be eager to have her come back to continue work with them as the need arises, and we feel the same way!

Coming back home on Thursday February 2 we were delayed by about an hour at the Kingfisher Lake airstrip waiting for the plane to arrive, but they made up the time by transferring us quickly between planes in Sioux. The flight back to Toronto was fine, but Norma Jean’s bag was lost in the Pearson baggage handling area. It was delivered to our house the next day. Ruth’s husband Dick picked us up. We had a late supper, Meg got a ride home from the airport by a friend, and we got home to Windham Centre late at night on Thursday, after picking up our car at Ruth’s.

All in all, it went well, even after missing two days of work because of flight delays.
Thank you for your prayers and especially thanks to God for His work and word in the lives of the Oji-Cree people.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean

Northern Translation Brief 05Oct2016

Our Dear Partners,

Thank you for your prayers for us during the past several days: Norma Jean and I have been in Kingfisher Lake, northern Ontario with the Oji-Cree Bible Translation team, conducting an on-site workshop there. Since translating the very first verse of their translation project less than 18 months ago (read about that here: <link>), the team has completed 2478 verses of the Bible in first draft. Of these, 464 verses have been checked and reviewed by their entire team, and 404 verses are back-translated and ready for a consultant-check.

progress-chart-sept2016We began each day singing a hymn from the Cree hymnal together, and reading a devotional on the Oji-Cree scripture text that they would be “team-checking” or “back-translating” that day.

dscn2168The team learned and practiced preparing and formatting the printed Sunday scripture readings that are used in their church each week. They learned some more advanced skills in translating names, flora & fauna of the Bible and major Biblical terms using the computer database tools designed for Bible translators.

In a nutshell, we taught and practiced translation procedures that the Oji-Cree team asked us to teach and practice–giving them what they needed as they needed it.

Our travels up north here from down south was delayed by a day because the little plane could not land on the gravel strip at Kingfisher Lake last Tuesday morning in the fog. So after an unplanned stopover in Sioux Lookout, we came back and landed last Wednesday. But we thank God for His help and grace to accomplish all He wanted to do with the team during the days we had together.

windham-to-kingfisherLord willing we fly all the way back home to southern Ontario on Thursday, October 6 (three planes, six airports, 1100 miles, 12 hours, two time zones, one Canadian province).

Thank you for being an essential part of this work, and helping the Oji-Cree to have better access to God’s Word in their own language.

Blessings, Bill and Norma Jean

Fall moose hunting harvest, Kingfisher Lake 2016

Fall moose hunting harvest, Kingfisher Lake 2016

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Northern Translation Brief: “The Next Generation”

Our Dear Partners,

When the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Gathering was held at Prince Albert in 2014, there were several projects that were prioritized, including work on Oji-Cree, Cree and Naskapi Bible translation projects, along with activities focused on building the capacity of the local communities to accomplish these translation goals. At the second Gathering at Toronto in 2016 these priorities were repeated and expanded to include other First Nations language communities with Bible translation needs.

This “Translation Brief” talks about a key component that God is using to help address these needs: the Next Generation of Bible translation facilitators and team members!TranslationNextGeneration2


“Jesus told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ ” –Luke 10:2


Is there a linguist in the house?RecruitingPosterpicture

More and more around the world, the speakers of minority languages themselves are gaining the skills they need to translate the Bible into their own mother tongue. But communities still need someone to walk with them and help them to gain confidence in those skills, and to assist in the many technical and academic ways that are needed when a community chooses to begin a Bible Translation project.

In our experience there are many things that can happen at once, and having trained Bible translation facilitator team working on site for an extended period is essential for training, coordination, mentoring and helping, and building a network of relationships that is vital to the success of the project. Even in situations where there is a mature mother tongue translation team like in the Naskapi community, there are a myriad of ongoing tasks that a facilitator with linguistics and language development training and experience can make easier.

Cree Map July 2014aWe want to highlight for you some of these new teams who are soon to be headed north to work alongside our First Nations friends who are committed to their own translation projects, so that you get to know them better as we are, and can pray for them.

Matthew and Caitlin Windsor

Cait & Matt Windsor

Cait & Matt Windsor

Matthew and Caitlin are from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. We met them while we were living in Aldergrove, BC and Norma Jean was following her graduate coursework from 2013-2015 at the Trinity Western University campus in Langley BC. Matthew was enrolled at CanIL, the Canadian Institute of Linguistics, also on the Trinity Western campus in Langley, in preparation for service in Bible Translation. During their time there, we shared with the students about the work that we do with the Naskapi translation project in Quebec, and the need for Bible Translation in other First Nations communities.

Caitlin and Matthew responded to God’s call on their lives and were accepted to Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada in December 2014, and in the spring of 2015 we received confirmation that they would work with First Nations communities in northern Canada.

Cait&Hazel

Hazel Windsor

They visited the Naskapi community with us during a working trip in support of the translation team in the fall of 2015, and are now trusting God to raise the financial and prayer support team that they will need before they move to northern Canada.

In January their first child was born, Hazel! She is a very precious blessing and she already brings much joy to their home!

Martin and Alice Reed

Martin and Alice

Martin & Alice Reed

Martin and Alice are newlyweds, just having been married on March 12, 2016. They met while training for Wycliffe Bible translation ministry at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics (GIAL) in Dallas, they are united by a shared passion for crossing language and culture barriers to make God’s Word accessible to all. They were both accepted into Wycliffe USA in the fall of 2015, and have been approved to join the translation teams working with First Nations communities in northern Canada.

Alice and Martin also must complete raising their support like Caitlin and Matt, but they have an additional hurdle to negotiate: as US citizens, they must satisfy Canadian immigration regulations before being allowed to work in northern Canada.

Martin and Alice will be joining us on our next working trip to Kawawachikamach to visit the translation team and get acquainted with the Naskapi community.

Linguistics Internships

The founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, William Cameron Townsend, had not only established a curriculum of linguistics training for new teams preparing to serve in minority language communities, but also a component called “Jungle Camp” in Chiapas, Mexico, where teams would be trained to live in remote, cross-cultural situations. Other versions of this orientation training were also established through the years to suit the region and the culture. We still see this as an important step for new Bible translation facilitation teams.

KawawaFall2012

Kawawachikamach

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some members of the Naskapi translation team

Both the Windsors and the Reeds will be spending an internship period in service to the Naskapi language project in their remote northern First Nations community of Kawawachikamach. The Naskapi language team and leadership has agreed to host this internship period and help the new teams to get a start on language and culture learning with them, while the new teams assist the mother tongue translation staff with their current translation and language program, all the while being supported and mentored by Bill and Norma Jean. This will provide these new teams with practical experience before they take on their long-term assignment in another First Nations language program somewhere else in the north. Both new teams hope to begin their respective internships sometime in 2017, first one team and then the other.

A day-to-day work routine with the Naskapi team will also help the Naskapi to be successful and accelerate in their own Old Testament translation goals, and in training new Naskapi language specialists as well.

Meg Billingsley

Meg Billingsley

Meg Billingsley

Meg is not a stranger to First Nations Bible Translation in Canada. She joined Wycliffe Bible Translators and was assigned to the Plains Cree translation project around 2002, working from Prince Albert Sasksatchewan. She took an assignment with the Mi’kmaq translation project at Sydney Nova Scotia around 2008, where she has served as facilitator until this year. This month she begins her training to become a translation consultant, and she will be moving to Ontario to begin applying those skills alongside First Nations mother tongue translators, beginning with the first draft translation being produced by the new Oji-Cree translation project.

A translation consultant is someone who works with translation teams in a variety of languages to support translators in their work and help them to produce a translation which clearly and accurately communicates the meaning of Scripture in ways that sound natural in the language.

As she gains experience, she will be mentored by senior translation consultants. We expect that she will do much of her work from a distance and make short term visits into the language communities for checking sessions. While she is part of the “Next Generation”, she comes to the work in Northern Canada with nearly 15 years of experience working with First Nations languages, and we are happy to have her along!

Ben Wukasch

Ben Wukasch

Ben Wukasch

Ben Wukasch has expressed his interest and hopes to be involved in what God is doing in bringing the Scriptures into the heart languages of First Nations people in Canada. He graduated from Princeton in the States, where he majored in Environmental Engineering and minored in Linguistics and Latin American Studies. He was involved in both mission work in Latin America and wrote his thesis on Appropriate Technology and Peru.

Ben was involved in a project where the Quechua speaking residents of a small village on the outskirts of a city problem-solved and decided on a project for their community. He then studied Biblical Greek and Hebrew at the University of Toronto, and later on completed a Master of Applied Linguistics and Exegesis (MLE) degree at Trinity Western with CanIL.

He looks forward to someday joining what God is already at work doing in Canada, among its most ancient citizens, and he appreciates your prayers as he seeks God’s will for his life.


The Canadian Bible Society has worked along side Wycliffe in several of the indigenous translation projects over the years. They too have recently recruited additional staff to serve in translation projects in the north:

Catherine Aldred-Shull

Catherine Aldred-Shull

Catherine Aldred-Shull

Catherine is the daughter of Ray Aldred (Th.D., Wycliffe College) a Cree from the Swan River Band in Alberta. Catherine received her BA in Biblical Studies from Columbia Bible College in 2010 and Masters in Religious Studies & Bible Translation from McGill University in 2013. Earlier this month she accepted a position in the Bible Society as “Translation Officer Trainee”.

She has a long association with the Canadian Bible Society, particularly with the Montreal District which supported her studies in linguistics at McGill University. She has also worked with the Society’s Translation Team on indigenous languages. She expects to be working with some of the Cree language communities in Saskatchewan.


Bible translation is the responsibility of the whole church. We certainly can’t do it alone. Nor can just Wycliffe, or the Bible Society, or the indigenous church or language community. We need each other and we certainly rejoice that God is calling a new generation of field workers, facilitators and specialists to work alongside the First Nations people that God is calling to Himself.

Prayer Requests:

Pray for Matthew and Caitlin Windsor and little Hazel:

  • that God would grant them patience and that they would stay rooted in Jesus as they wait and prepare in Comox
  • that God would continue to connect them with the people He has identified to contribute financially and prayerfully to the translation work
  • that they would be a blessing to their families and their church family during their time on Vancouver Island
  • Get current prayer requests and connect with the Windsors here: https://thewindsorsupnorth.com/

Pray for Martin and Alice Reed:

  • Washington Visit: They will be in the Seattle and Portland areas 7/27-8/2 to share about their Wycliffe ministry. Pray for strong connections and new partners.
  • Church Interview: The missions committee at Alice’s home church will interview them on 7/24. May God use it to form an even deeper partnership.
  • Immigration: Pray for the application process to continue smoothly.
  • Get current prayer requests and connect with the Reeds here: https://www.wycliffe.org/partner/reed

Pray for Meg Billingsley:

  • for all the work to be done in finishing things up with the Mi’kmaq translation, with packing and moving, and with beginning her translation consultant training. Pray for the Lord’s peace and empowering in the midst of it all.
  • for favor with immigration workers and government officials as she travels to her training in South Asia later this month, for safety in travels and health and protection while she’s there. Most of all that the Lord would be at work in and through all her interactions and relationships wherever she goes.
  • that the Lord will lead her to the right apartment in southern Ontario, and that she will finish her work among the Mi’kmaq well.

Pray for Ben Wukasch:

  • that God would make His direction clear to Ben as he seeks to serve in First Nations Bible Translation ministry
  • that Ben would be faithful day-by-day in the ways God is using him now in ESL work and welcoming newcomers to Canada

Pray for Catherine Aldred-Shull

  • that her transition to her new position working with the Canadian Bible Society will go smoothly, including any moves and orientation
  • that God would guide her as she starts the 3-year United Bible Society (UBS) Translation Officer training cycle this September
  • that God would lead her to areas of engagement in the Bible translation task in Canada that would be fulfilling and effective

And finally, please pray for all of us, that our interactions and work would be a blessing to each other and to the First Nations and indigenous language communities that God has called us to serve.

Thank you for your prayers for us all.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean

 

Northern Translation Brief 06Jul2016

Our Dear Partners,

During our last visit to the New Oji-Cree Translation team at Kingfisher Lake, Ontario around Easter time, they asked us if we could accompany them to “General Synod” this summer.

You will recall that this translation program was initiated by Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, the first bishop of a completely indigenous Anglican diocese in Canada, the “Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh”.

Just a few days after the establishment of this ministry in June 2014, she attended the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Gathering in Prince Albert. At that gathering, she heard testimony from Naskapi and Cree speakers who were translating the Bible into their own languages, and the impact that this was having in their own lives and communities. cheyenne and lydia June 2014Before the gathering was over, she requested guidance and assistance toward starting a translation project in her own language, Oji-Cree.

As you can read in other posts, (click <here> and <here>) over the past two years the New Oji-Cree Translation team has developed and has begun bring scriptures to the Kingfisher Lake community that the community is engaging with.

The diocese, the Kingfisher Lake Translation Committee and the translation team wanted to tell the story of how God has been at work in their community and in this translation program to the other delegates from Anglican churches all over Canada at this year’s General Synod, so they have made arrangements to set up a display booth, show pictures and examples, and distribute brochures about their translation program. They invited us to attend the synod to accompany them in the booth, and to help prepare the display and the handouts.

DSCN0976So we will be attending General Synod with them from Thursday to Saturday this week, and helping them to make connections between their translation program and other Anglican parishes and congregations across Canada.

Pray with us that we will serve our friends the Oji-Cree delegates well, that we make God-ordained connections, and that other churches and individuals will be moved to participate in First Nations Bible Translation in Canada.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean

Thank you for participating yourself and supporting this work by visiting these websites:

In the USA: https://www.wycliffe.org/partner/Jancewicz

In Canada: http://www.wycliffe.ca/m?Jancewicz

 

Rev. Stan Cuthand–Plains Cree Bible Translator

On May 23, 2016, Cree Bible translator The Rev. Stan Cuthand age 97, passed away in Saskatchewan after a hospital stay. His life work was the translation of the Bible into Plains Cree, his own mother-tongue. Read his obituary here.

plains cree review3After earning his Bachelors of Theology in 1944, Rev. Cuthand served as a priest in the Anglican Church. He also worked as assistant professor of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba, and “retired” to Saskatchewan to work at First Nations University of Canada and Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre.

Around 1990, at 71 years of age, Rev. Cuthand was hired by the Canadian Bible Society (CBS) to draft a new translation of the New Testament in Plains Cree, plus 40% of the Old Testament, which included all the major stories and themes.

Plains Cree Bible Translation Project

Throughout the 1990s, the Plains Cree translation project was coordinated by Rev. Bob Bryce, working with CBS. He facilitated a routine of two to three translation and review workshops per year, usually held in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, to revise and approve with Stan’s first draft. Most of the Old Testament sections were reviewed during this period, but little was brought to publication or distribution.

In the late 1990s, Wycliffe / SIL-North America Branch assigned linguist Kimb Givens (Spender) to facilitate the project. She was based in Saskatoon until about 2003 when she married and moved to Maine. She continued to assist from time to time from her home in Maine.

In 2001 Bob Bryce retired from the Canadian Bible Society, and Ruth (Spielmann) Heeg was assigned as project coordinator, working from the Society’s translation office Kitchener, along with many other duties, fulfilling a joint assignment with SIL and CBS.

Around 2002, Wycliffe / SIL-North America Branch assigned Meg Billingsley to facilitate the project jointly with Ruth. She was based in Prince Albert, and her term of service overlapped with Kimb’s. Meg was reassigned to Mi’kmaq in 2008.

In 2004 Stan Cuthand completed his translation of the first draft of the 40% Old Testament and complete New Testament, and continued to assist at many of the workshops with Ruth, Kimb, and Meg.

From 2001 to 2013 Ruth continued to coordinate the program and to facilitate the translation checking workshops twice a year in North Battleford and Saskatoon. Often if there were too many participants at the workshops they could be very slow and cumbersome. There was often great participation but little progress. Eventually, it was decided to work with a smaller team of Cree translator-reviewers.

From 2014 – present Ruth mostly worked with just two Cree-speaking reviewers, Dolores Sand and Gayle Weenie. This team made much better progress.

The following sections of the Plains Cree translation have been published and distributed:

  • Luke chapters 22-24 (2004)
  • Ruth (2004)
  • Mark (2010)
  • Selections of the Psalms (2013)
  • James (2014)

In July 2015 the entire book of Luke was finalized and Bill and Norma Jean assisted Ruth in recording the entire book read by Dolores. It will be ready to publish once the final editing is accomplished on the audio files. Matthew is ready to be recorded next. The Gospel of John will be ready after a final check of chapters 20 and 21, and the book of Acts is currently being reviewed and revised by Ruth, Dolores and Gayle.

Please continue to pray for the translation team as they complete the work begun by Stan Cuthand, so that Plains Cree speakers across Canada will have God’s Word in their own language.

plains cree review4

Northern Translation Brief: 2016 Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) Workshop

Our Dear Partners,

2016 MTT Workshop, GuelphWhen the First Nations representatives and church leaders met with us in Prince Albert in June of 2014, they identified several priorities for the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative. One of these priorities was to conduct a series of Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) Workshops to help the speakers of First Nations languages learn the skills that they need to be involved in Bible Translation and community language development.

With assistance from our friends at the Canadian Bible Society, we planned and facilitated the 2016 Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) Workshop held at the Guelph Bible Conference Centre from April 24th to the 29th. Speakers of First Nations languages from four different language communities were able to come to this workshop.

WorkshopMap2016aWhat Happens at a Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) Workshop?

Every morning we began with a hymn: we sang in Naskapi, or Oji-Cree, or Cree, either from an old “legacy” hymnbook, or an up-to-date adaptation into today’s language, or even a completely new song. The participants all enjoyed learning worship songs in their different languages from one another, praising God in their beautiful languages.

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Myles Leitch, Canadian Bible Society

Then each day one of the staff shared a devotional from the Word of God. Whenever it was available, the scripture passage was read in the mother tongue of one or more of the First Nations languages of the participants. We reflected about how God uses language in His Mission (Genesis 2, John 1 and Psalm 8); how God’s Word is meant to be understood (Romans 15:1-6), which became a theme passage for the entire workshop. We considered the spiritual warfare we are engaged in when when we are working on making God’s message clear for the first time in the languages spoken in these communities, and how the stories of God’s love and grace can be communicated and passed on in engaging and life-changing ways.

Screen shot 2015-05-02 at 10.33.11 PMNext, the staff took turns teaching chapters from the Bible Translation Basics textbook, which focuses on communication theory, along with modules from the Bible Translation Principles course, which focuses on distinguishing the “form” from the “meaning” of the message, and participants learned how to express the meaning of the message in the form that corresponds to their own language and culture. Each of these resources were useful to help learners understand the translation task and to help them gain the skills they need to do it well.

BibleTranslation ProcessWe also introduced several tools for Scripture Engagement, exploring different ways that the message of the Bible can be made available in print and non-print media, including the use of audio playback devices (Megavoice) and graphic-novel style presentations of God’s Story such as “Good and Evil“.

Good & Evil book copyResources for sustainable local Language Development programs were presented, which offered ways of involving their own community leadership, community organizations and education with their translation teams to help them:

  • To raise awareness of the current situation of their traditional language.
  • To raise awareness of how they use all of the other languages at their disposal.
  • To help the community come to a decision and a response about what they want to do with their entire language ‘repertoire’ in the future.

Screen shot 2016-05-07 at 7.44.44 PMSome of the more practical and technical aspects of the Bible Translation process were covered each day, including the use of the collaborative translation software program ParaTExt, which assists translators by providing source translations and resource documents as well as tools to assist them in translating into their own language and checking their work. Several of the participants had never used this software, so we were careful to start very gradually. Those participants who were more familiar with the program helped the beginners during hands-on practice sessions in small groups.

Steve Kempf

Steve Kempf, SIL International consultant

On Tuesday and Wednesday morning, SIL International translation consultant Steve Kempf came as a guest instructor to teach us all about translating names and especially the special care and consideration that need to be taken into account when translating the Names of God, such as Elohim, Adonai, and YHWH (Yahweh).

elohim Adon AdonaiBill also taught modules on the Algonquian language family and grammatical structures, the history of Bible Translations in First Nations languages, and practical considerations for setting up a local language development program that includes Bible translation and individual professional development. Discussion between the translation teams from different language communities helped them to see how the different challenges that each one faces may be addressed.

Mason-HordenMacKay RevisionSo each day contained a stimulating blend of discussion and instruction, worship and encouragement from the scriptures, training and capacity-building. We closed the week with a celebration and presentation of certificates to all the participants.

_5EB2170Guests, Connections and Staff

2016 MTT 016

Natasha and Dwayne, Word Alive magazine

For the first four days of the workshop, Word Alive editor Dwayne Janke and photographer Natasha Ramírez were “embedded journalists” with the workshop staff and team. Word Alive magazine is Wycliffe Canada’s journal whose mission is to inform, inspire and involve the Christian public as partners in the worldwide Bible translation movement. They have already featured a wonderful description of the Naskapi Bible Translation project in their Spring 2013 edition. They were with us gathering material to for a future publication to highlight First Nations Bible translation in Canada.

Throughout the week we were also visited by several guests who were interested in making connections with and serving First Nations Bible translation projects, including Paul Arsenault and Jeff Green from Tyndale University and the Canadian Institute of Linguistics (CanIL), Benjamin Wukasch, a student interested in service in First Nations language communities. Our guests also included staff from the Canadian Bible Society Scripture Translation offices in Kitchener, Ontario, Barb Penner and Tomas Ortiz.

Jeff Green and Paul Arsenault (CanIL, Tyndale)

Jeff Green and Paul Arsenault, CanIL / Tyndale

Barb Penner and Tomas Ortiz, Canadian Bible Society

Barb Penner and Tomas Ortiz, Canadian Bible Society

On Thursday, Wycliffe Canada Korean Diaspora Church Connections 한인 디아스포라 교회 협력 brought a group representing the Korean church, who are very interested in praying for and working together to assist their First Nations brothers and sisters to have better access to the scriptures in their own languages. Many of the First Nations participants shared how blessed they were to meet their new Korean friends.

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At the end of the week Elaine Bombay, a photojournalist with Wycliffe Global Alliance visited the workshop to meet the participants and also helped by taking photographs of the staff and participants and the workshop closing ceremonies. Several of the photographs posted here are her work. Thank you Elaine!

The workshop was staffed by faciliators and instructors Bill and Norma Jean, Ruth Heeg and Myles Leitch from the Canadian Bible Society, Meg Billingsley, an SIL translation consultant in training, and Matthew and Caitlin Windsor, who are preparing to serve as translation project facilitators in a First Nations community soon.

Ruth Heeg, Canadian Bible Society translation consultant

Ruth Heeg, Canadian Bible Society translation consultant

Meg Billingsley, Matt & Caitlin Windsor, and baby Hazel (ᐊᐱᑯᓯᔅ)

Meg Billingsley, Matt & Caitlin Windsor, and baby Hazel (ᐊᐱᑯᓯᔅ)

Participant Evaluations

On Friday, the last day of the workshop, we took some time to reflect and evaluate the
workshop program, and all the participants provided feedback for the organizers to consider for the next workshop. Here is a sampling of some of the participants’ comments:

What was something new that you learned during this workshop?

“…Translating Biblical Names.”
“…God is trying to speak to people in their language.”
“…Saying “less” can mean “more”.”
“…The features in Paratext–I got to learn more about how to use them.”

What did you particularly like about this workshop?

“…Meeting other Algonquian language speakers.”
“…The technical part–how to use the programs.”
“…I enjoyed the whole workshop.”
“…Singing hymns / Everything.”
“…Hymn singing, devotions, sharing, everything.”
“…I liked the experience with the Koreans.”

What were the best aspects of the workshop?

“…Learning from patient facilitators who were patient with me.”
“…Learning new things about translating the Bible.”
“…Giving our opinions and experiences.”
“…Sharing of other teams’ experiences.”
“…I enjoyed the visitors and all they offered for us in their prayers, and the direction of the facilitators.”
“…The singing and devotions and great workshop presenters, and the explanations about the basics of translation.”

God continues to be at work bringing His message to His people in their own languages. We are so grateful that you can be a part of this work with us. Thank you for your prayers and support for this workshop and for the wonderful things God continues to do in the lives of our First Nations friends.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean

Consider becoming more involved and supporting this work by visiting these websites:

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Northern Translation Brief 23Nov2015

Our Dear Partners,

November 2015 on-site workshop at Kingfisher Lake

At the end of October, 2015, we spoke with Bishop Lydia Mamakwa at her diocesan office in the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh (Anglican Diocese in Northern Ontario) to plan on another visit to help her team prepare the first set of church Scripture readings for Advent 2015.

November 2015 Workshop, Kingfisher Lake

November 2015 Workshop, Kingfisher Lake

She asked if we might come the first week of November, so we made plans to do so.

We traveled to Kingfisher Lake from our home on Monday and Tuesday, November 2 & 3. We were accompanied by Wyclffe Canada representative Terri Scruggs, from Calgary. We were all delayed by almost one day because of weather, but were finally able to arrive late Tuesday night.

The workshops begin

On Wednesday, all five translators were available to work with us all day, starting their session at 9:00 AM. The translation team discussed their daily schedule, and since some of the translators have other duties to perform each day, they decided that they would meet each afternoon for a workshop session right after lunch, and work together until suppertime. They also agreed to meet together on Saturday afternoon as well. We worked with translators on an individual basis every morning.

Encouragement from partner organizations

Terri Scruggs

Terri Scruggs

Terri Scruggs, the Wycliffe Canada project administrator, brought greetings from the Wycliffe Canada office in Calgary where she works, and reminded the Oji-Cree translation team that Wycliffe Canada is available to assist and support the project with prayer and church contacts. She shared how happy they were with the progress that the translation team has already made, and described to the team how other Christians in churches across Canada who have heard about it are excited about the Oji-Cree Bible Translation project, and interested in praying for and connecting with the Oji-Cree translation team.

She described a Wycliffe Canada initiative called “Kingdom Friendships” that they facilitate between Canadian churches and organizations like the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh that are involved in Mother-Tongue Bible translation. She also encouraged the translation team to share how the translated scriptures are having an impact in their own lives and in the lives of the other people who read them.

Daily training schedule

Oji-Cree Lectionary Chart

Oji-Cree Lectionary Chart

Each day we began the workshop day with a hymn from the Cree hymnal, prayed together for the project, and shared a devotional Bible reading that focused on the Bible text that the team had worked for that day. Next we covered a refresher lesson about basic translation principles that we introduced at the Guelph Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) workshop in April (click here to see this story). Bill also helped the translators to move the project from the “First Draft” (step 1) stage through the other checking and review stages that a Bible translation requires, spending time every day working through the procedures for the other stages.

Other topics covered were how to be sure they knew the meaning of the text before attempting to translate it, how every culture has an effect on the presentation of the meaning of the message, including those cultures that the Bible was originally written to. They also did some brief video studies of the culture and geography of the Bible lands in Jesus’ time, and constantly referred to the print and online resources available that can help the translators to understand the culture and the times.

Oji-Cree Word List

Oji-Cree Word List

During the “Team Checking” time each day, the translators discussed the selection and spelling of words that would come up often in their translation work, and, as a group, settled on using certain words and their spelling for consistency. These were written on a flip chart by the team members, and then typed into a computer file with their meanings in English, and kept on a shared computer folder so that they could add to the list of words in the weeks and months to come and refer to it during their drafting and checking sessions.

Scripture engagement – God’s Word in Oji-Cree for the church and community

Because of the importance of connecting the rest of the Oji-Cree community with the work of the translation team, Norma Jean prepared materials to make church banners that not only celebrated the Advent season in artistic symbols, but also include Oji-Cree language scripture and scripture portions. This will help the church and community at large to connect with the translation work that the team is doing into Oji-Cree.

Oji-Cree Church Banners

Oji-Cree Church Banners

The entire team participated in the hands-on activity of making designs, choosing scripture verses, preparing the syllabic lettering and assembling the banners. These banners are being displayed at Mission House and at St. Matthew’s Church during the season of Advent and Christmas. All of the spare materials and tools for making these scripture engagement banners was left at Mission House after the workshop was over so that the translation team can continue to make their own.

Christmas Book

Christmas Book

We also described some of the Bible-based children’s books that they had produced in Naskapi, especially the full colour “Jesus is Born” Christmas story in Naskapi. They showed the translators how they could easily replace the Naskapi language text in the computer files for these books and then produce Oji-Cree versions of these books for use in the community. Translation team member Zipporah Mamakwa has already completed the draft of the Oji-Cree text for this project and we expect to have books ready for Christmas.

Another scripture engagement project that was started at Bishop Lydia’s request in the summer is the Book of Alternative Services in Oji-Cree. This started out as a rough translation of pages from the Anglican Book of Alternative Services, with a hand-written version on facing pages in Oji-Cree syllabics, produced “in-house” on a photocopier. We took these materials to start from and produced a professionally-printed prototype (checking copy) of the Book of Alternative Services, Holy Eucharist in Oji-Cree. IMG_2340IMG_2341IMG_2344Five of these checking copies were left with the translation team and Bishop Lydia, who will review and revise the books so that a final publication can be made for use in the church and community.

Fellowship and relationships

A “Gospel Jamboree” was also taking place in Kingfisher Lake the same weekend of the translators workshop. We were privileged to attend three sessions of the Jamboree, and we ourselves sang together once in Naskapi (In the Sweet Bye and Bye) and Bill also sang another time in Cree (Jesus paid it all). IMG_2320IMG_2319IMG_2205They enjoyed being part of this cultural and spiritual celebration, and it was especially good to hear many young people in the community singing Gospel songs in Cree or Ojibwe. We were encouraged and hope that this trend will continue, and that more and more people in the community become engaged in the language development work, and begin to create some of their own songs in Oji-Cree.

We also participated in the first annual Remembrance Day ceremonies that were conducted by the Kingfisher Lake First Nation Canadian Rangers patrol on November 11.

IMG_2350IMG_2355IMG_2368Current translation progress

Since the translation team began translating their first few Bible verses themselves into Oji-Cree on 23 April 2015 at the Guelph Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) workshop, the team has made steady progress. As of the end of this workshop they have translated a total of more than 1200 verses in “First Draft” (step 1), moving toward the goal of having all the Sunday readings prepared for St. Matthew’s Church for this coming year.

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Church Lectionary Readings

During the workshop, Bill guided the team through the “Team Check” (step 2) procedure for all the readings for the Advent and Christmas services. This part of the procedure has the entire translation team working together on the same passage, reading through a translation that one of the team members has already completed. This helps the translator to make corrections and adjustments to her translation so that it is more clear, accurate and natural. So by the end of the workshop on November 11th, all the readings were ready for printing out for the Sunday church services through the end of December 2015.

Meeting with Bishop Lydia

Because of family and ministry responsibilities, Bishop Lydia Mamakwa was only in the community on Saturday and Sunday during the workshop weeks. She graciously took time to meet with us late Sunday afternoon before she had to leave for another ministry trip outside the community. During this meeting, we reported to her about the progress of her team and the activities of this workshop.

We covered several topics with the Bishop that concern the new Oji-Cree translation project. They prayed with her for her family and her travels, and reported on the work with the translators during the first four days of the workshops. They discussed some of her goals for the project and did some planning about when we might come back to Kingfisher Lake again.

The Bishop said that she would be pleased to have the Oji-Cree Bible Translation team be part of Wycliffe Canada church connections and have the Oji-Cree team, committee and project remembered and prayed for regularly.

We grateful that the Bishop took the time to meet and pray with us, and feel that God is at work in her and in the Oji-Cree Translation project.

Continuing work after the workshop

The translation team reviewed the next steps that they will need to take over the coming months to stay on schedule with the translation goals that their committee has set.

Team Scripture Checking

Team Scripture Checking

They will continue to translate the “First Draft” (step 1) of the Epistle and Gospel for the Sunday readings according to the schedule in their Bible Translation office. They were also encouraged to meet together as a team at least once per week, in order to accomplish the “Team Check” (step 2) for the next readings in preparation for the Sunday lectionary.
The team was taught the procedure to prepare the checking printouts for the “Community Check” (step 3), and they practiced printing out drafts of the scripture portions that they translated. These were then brought to some of the committee members and elders who have volunteered to read through and check the translations. Some of these print-outs will also be formatted and copied for distribution as “church bulletins” that contain the Sunday Lectionary Reading in Oji-Cree, and everyone in the congregation can take them home with them to read them later.

Formatting and Printing

Formatting and Printing

Finally, the team will begin to do the “Back Translation” (step 4) in preparation for a consultant-check which will be eventually necessary before the publication of the scriptures in books. This checking procedure will also ensure that the translation is accurate and clear.

We are grateful for the support and warm welcome that we always receive during our stays in Kingfisher Lake with the Mission House staff, and look forward to our return to the community later in the new year.

Please pray that God will begin to use His Word in the hearts of the Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree people as they start reading it together every Sunday starting this Advent (November 29).

And while you are thinking of us, please remember us as we will be traveling to the Naskapi community in Northern Quebec on that same day. We plan to be with them through the Second Sunday of Advent.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz

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Teamwork for Scripture Engagement

Jesus is the Light of the World

Jesus is the Light of the World

Materials left for more banners

Materials left for more banners

Daily workshop sessions

Daily workshop sessions

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Hands-on practice

Discussing the text

Discussing the text

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Young family at church

Heading home from church

Heading home from church

The scriptures for every generation

The scriptures for every generation

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