Northern Translation Brief 14Aug2015

Our Dear Partners,

We would like to ask your prayers for our upcoming trip to the Naskapi community in Kawawachikamach. We have plans to be traveling to northern Quebec starting from the Toronto, Ontario area beginning on Sunday, 23 August 2015. to Schefferville 2015We are traveling by car this time because we will be bringing our daughter Elizabeth with us: she is coming along to make a visit to the place where she grew up and to reconnect with her Naskapi friends. This past year, she has completed the illustrations for the third book in a series of traditional Naskapi legends that we have helped the Naskapi Development Corporation to publish. Achan promo card-horiz-aWe are very excited to have her come along with us again, and we are looking forward to seeing more of her work in Naskapi publications and literacy materials.

First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative

Ever since the Naskapi have started to read their New Testament (pubished in 2007) in their own language, many of them have expressed a new interest in reading the Bible in their own language, and they have taken on the translation of the Old Testament as a long-term project. First Nations Capacity Building Map1aThey have also been helping people in other First Nations communities to begin engaging with the Scriptures themselves. As we responded to this growing desire to have God’s Word in their own languages, we realized that it’s going to take a larger team of people to help facilitate several projects at once. We invite you to continue to pray that God will send more workers to help us.

Matt & Cait Windsor

Matt & Cait Windsor

We are very pleased to introduce you to the first new team to join us in this Initiative, Matthew and Caitlin Windsor.

Matthew and Caitlin

Matt & Cait are from the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. They came to the Canada Institute of Linguistics (CanIL) in Langley, BC two years ago because they felt God’s call to help facilitate Bible translation into minority languages. During their time at CanIL, they were also led to seek to serve First Nations communities in Canada as part of Wycliffe Bible Translators. The Naskapi Bible translation team at Kawawachikamach has agreed to help them to learn about their language and culture, as Matt and Cait preprare themselves for service in one of the other First Nations language communities in Canada that is still waiting to have God Word in their own language.

So, on this trip to Kawawa, as usual will be mentoring and training the Naskapi Language Specialists who are working their way through the Naskapi Old Testament, and also conducting a workshop with the Naskapi language teachers at the school to help them Naskapi literacy, grammar, and bilingual education.

Naskapi Language Specialists at work

Naskapi Language Specialists at work

Naskapi Language educators' workshop

Naskapi Language educators’ workshop

But we will also be introducing Matt and Cait to our Naskapi friends who will be helping them to get accustomed their language and culture, and living in an isolated northern First Nations community. This time it is just a visit, and Lord willing after they have raised their financial support they will be able to move to the Naskapi community sometime in 2016 for their internship with them. While they are there, they will help facilitate some of the Naskapi language development projects and work alongside the Naskapi translators as they gain the skills and insight they will need to do this in one of the other language communities they may be invited to serve.

Hard News and Grief

This past week has been a difficult one for the Naskapi community, as we have heard that two of our dear friends have departed this life. Simon Einish, son of the late Tommy and Annie Einish and a loving husband and father, died suddenly and unexpectedly on the weekend (Tommy Einish is the Naskapi elder teaching Bill in the title picture at the top of this website). And Sylvester Tooma, a venerable Naskapi elder also passed away after an illness.

Norma Jean with Sylvester Tooma, 2014

Norma Jean with Sylvester Tooma, 2014

We appreciate your prayers for their families and their community, and that God would be the comforter to those who experience this loss the hardest.

Please also pray for our trip: the five of us, Matt & Cait, Bill & Norma Jean, and our daughter Elizabeth, will drive up along the Lower North Shore of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec to Sept-Îles starting on Sunday afternoon, August 23. We take the 13-hour train to Schefferville on Thursday, August 27 and spend the next eleven days working in the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach.

Bill & Norma Jean, Elizabeth, Cait & Matt

Bill & Norma Jean, Elizabeth, Cait & Matt

We’ll be on the train back south on September 8, and then drive back to southern Ontario where Matt & Cait will fly back home to Comox to continue their preparations and partnership development.

Pray for our time with the Naskapi Language Specialists and Teachers, that we would be a help and encouragement to them and that they will become even better equipped to continue their own translation and language development work.

Pray for safety and good health, for God’s protection and provision, and for kindness, gentleness and God’s leading in all our doings.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Northern Translation Brief: Mushuau Innu Language Project

Our Dear Partners,

In our previous Translation Briefs, we promised to spend some time going deeper into each of the “priorities” identified in the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative.

Naskapi & Mushuau MapThis time, we would like to tell you about the Mushuau Innu language project. The Mushuau Innu and the Naskapi people are both descended from the nomadic caribou hunters who lived in the barren ground of northern Quebec and Labrador. They call their language Mushuau Innu aimun: Mushuau means ‘barren ground’, Innu means ‘person’ and aimun means ‘word’ or ‘language’.

1886_FortChimoVisitors_JRHBefore the beginning of the 20th century, there was no distinction between a “Naskapi” group and a “Mushuau Innu” group. Some were associated by family ties to the northern East Cree on Hudson’s Bay, and others were associated with the Montagnais (Innu) of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and central Labrador. But their nomadic lifestyle and dependence upon caribou was what made them a distinct people. Their language was related to both of these other people-groups, but had a core of features that was different from their neighbours on the coasts.

1903_innu_tradersThen, around 1916, when the inland Hudson’s Bay Company post at Fort McKenzie was established, many of these hunters and their families began to center their activities around that post. About the same period, other hunters began to frequent other Hudson’s Bay Company posts, especially the Davis Inlet post on the coast of Labrador. Of course, many hunters and their families would visit either post, depending on the relative convenience of the location.

In the 1920s, during a period when caribou were not plentiful, many Innu people began spending their summers near the Davis Inlet Hudson’s Bay Company post, because of the accessibility to food and trade goods.

hauling freightBy the mid 1940s, many of the western group that later came to be known as “Naskapi”, were working for the Company hauling cargo between Fort Chimo and Fort McKenzie.

By the 1950s, the Fort Chimo group moved to the Schefferville area permanently. The Davis Inlet group, having been moved by the Newfoundland government to Nutak 170 kilometers up the Labrador coast, decided to return on their own to Iluikoyak Island near the Davis Inlet Hudson’s Bay post, and in the 1960s were settled permanently in the Davis Inlet community, known as Utshimassits by the Innu.

Contrasting Naskapi and Mushuau Innu

The Mushuau Innu community and the Naskapi community, having started out as virtually the same people-group, over the past half-century have diverged into two distinct communities:

St. John's Anglican Church, Kawawachikamach

St. John’s Anglican Church, Kawawachikamach

The Naskapi settled inland, in the province of Quebec, and maintained ties with the Cree near Hudson’s Bay. The Mushuau Innu settled on the coast, in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and maintained ties with the Montagnais (Innu) in central Labrador and the Lower North Shore.

The Naskapi received their Christian teaching from Anglican clergy and has a church that is part of the Anglican diocese of Quebec. The Mushuau Innu received their Christian teaching from Roman Catholic clergy and their St. Anne Tshukuminu church is part of the Catholic diocese of Cornerbrook and Labrador.

St. Anne Tshukuminu Catholic Church, Natuashish

St. Anne Tshukuminu Catholic Church, Natuashish

The Naskapi read and write their language in a distinctive local variety of Cree syllabics, (like this: ᓇᔅᑲᐱ ᐃᔪᐤ ᐃᔨᒧᐅᓐ) very similar to the writing system used by the Northern dialect of East Cree. The Mushuau Innu read and write their language in a local variety of the emerging standard Innu spelling system (formerly referred to as Montagnais, like this: Tshishe-Manitu e ui kueshkatishit).

The Naskapi signed the Northeastern Quebec Agreement (NEQA) in the late 1970s, which enabled them to build their own new community of Kawawachikamach in 1983. The Mushuau Innu continued to struggled until the end of the century in difficult living conditions, and were finally provided with the new community of Natuashish in 2003.

Finally and significantly, the Naskapi have the New Testament in their own language, published in 2007, and a team of trained and experienced mother-tongue translators and Naskapi-speaking elementary school teachers, and ongoing work in language development and ongoing Old Testament translation. The Mushuau Innu do not (yet) have these things in their language.

Classroom Assistant Workshops

September 2011 visit to Natuashish

September 2011 visit to Natuashish

Over the past eight years, we have made several visits to the Mushuau Innu community, often bringing along some of the Naskapi language team to inspire and motivate Mushuau Innu speakers and community members. During these visits we and our Naskapi friends have met with educators, clergy, community leadership and resource persons, sharing our vision and encouragement for increased Mushuau Innu language development, and the central place that mother-tongue literacy and scripture translation can have for Natuashish as it has for Kawawachikamach.

September 2013 visit to Natuashish

September 2013 visit to Natuashish

Norma Jean and I have been invited back each year for the past four years by the Innu School Board to conduct workshops for the Innu-speaking classroom assistants. There are no Mushuau Innu speakers yet who have the training, certification or qualifications to be classroom teachers, so the role of teacher in all the grade levels is filled by English-speaking professional teachers engaged from outside the community. But because many of the younger Innu children begin their schooling with little knowledge of English, the school hires classroom assistants to act as interpreters in the primary and elementary grades. These persons are uniquely positioned to teach the basics of literacy skills in their mother tongue, if they are provided with some guidance and access to Innu-language materials. Many Innu classroom assistants do not have any post-secondary training–their primary asset is that they are speakers of the children’s first language. Showing them some basic teaching skills can begin to equip them to lead the children into learning.

IMG_9083This Feburary 2015 we were back in the Natuashish community on the invitation of the school board to conduct another workshop for the classroom assistants. Extreme cold and other setbacks rendered the Mushuau Innu school building unusable when the heating system failed. Nevertheless, we were able to make arrangements to secure a meeting space in the Health Services building across the street from the school, and we facilitated daily workshops with a group of nearly a dozen Innu classroom assistants.

IMG_9043IMG_9042Norma Jean covered strategies for teaching activities that could be conducted in Innu-aimun, following the model and curriculum of the English classroom teacher. The yearly cycle of Innu traditional cultural activities were proposed as a framework for teaching Innu language topics. She showed how using this topical format could cover many language competencies and generate learning activities for each grade level.

IMG_9044Bill prepared an abridged version of the Innu Dictionary adjusted to meet the needs of the Mushuau Innu speakers, and installed a digital version on the participants’ laptops. He also demonstrated simple techniques for accessing and using Innu language materials on their computers, and got them started on creating their own Mushuau Innu materials for classroom use.

We were both careful to be sensitive and listen to the participants each day and adjusted our workshop topics so that we would meet the particular needs that the Innu classroom assistants expressed to us.

IMG_9076When the workshop was over and in the evenings we were able to visit in some of the homes, meet with leaders and caregivers, visit elders and attend church services.

IMG_9027IMG_9064Once again, we are struck with the deep spiritual and social needs in this community, and while we are grateful for the welcome we received to conduct this workshop, we are still convinced that developing their capacity to have access to God’s word in their own language is essential so that they can continue to take the needed steps toward healing the hurts in their community. A simple Internet search on “Davis Inlet” will turn up a litany of many of the challenges this community has faced over the years, but this post is not the place for that. This post contains hope that the Mushuau Innu people themselves can begin to find their healing in a deeper knowledge of their Creator as expressed through the medium of their own language, which is their identity and legacy.

IMG_9084IMG_9086We are so grateful for the privilege of being invited to join in this process at Natuashish. Please remember to pray for the classroom assistants, the school and the Innu community leaders and elders in the coming weeks and months as they move forward. Thank you so much for your prayers for us as we traveled all those miles and days to spend this time with them.

Pray too that the Lord of the Harvest will send workers who can facilitate a Mushuau Innu language project full-time for the long-term, just as the Naskapi have had.

We are happy, but once again pretty tired! Pray for us for a refreshing week back in British Columbia.

This is the fourth of a series of messages describing each of the “priorities” identified in the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative that began with the story of the Mason Cree Bible, the (Cuthand) Plains Cree Translation, and the Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree Translation project . If you missed those, you can still read about them here:

Mason Cree Bible

(Cuthand) Plains Cree Translation

Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree Translation

We encourage you to click on those links and review the stories, the Initiative and our vision and involvement in this work.

The (Cuthand) Plains Cree Translation, the Mason Cree Bible, the Oji-Cree Translation and the Mushuau Innu projects are just four of the “priorities” identified by the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative. Keep watching for other posts right here that will feature the other “priorities”, including the following components of our vision:

  • Mother-Tongue Translator (MTT) workshops
  • Naskapi Old Testament Translation project

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Links to donate for our financial support:
in Canada: http://www.wycliffe.ca/m?Jancewicz
in USA: https://www.wycliffe.org/partner/Jancewicz

IMG_9075

 

 

Northern Translation Brief: “The Bible in Plain Cree”

IMG_8541

Mason Cree Bible

In 1891, The Smithsonian Bureau of Ethnology Bulletin, (Vol 13, issue 1, U.S. Govt. Printing Office) listed only two “whole Bibles” in its “Bibliography of Algonquian Languages”. The Bible in Massachusetts by J. Eliot, and the Bible in Cree by W. Mason. The “Eliot Bible” was published in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1663, and it is the first Bible of any language to be printed in North America, and the first Native American language Bible.

Almost 200 years later, the Mason Bible in Cree was published in London by the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1862, and thus was the second Native American (First Nations) language Bible.

IMG_8543The overleaf on the 1908 (J.A. Mackay) revision of the Mason Cree Bible says “The Old Testament in Plain Cree”, which is a reference to the variety of the Cree language that is spoken “on the plain“, which in modern times is referred to as “Plains Cree”. Although the names “W. (William) Mason” and “J.A. (John Alexander) Mackay” are the individuals generally associated with this book, how this Bible actually came to be is an engaging and remarkable story:

James Evans Teaching Syllabics

James Evans Teaching Syllabics

James Evans, a Wesleyan Methodist missionary, developed a syllabic orthography for translating religious works into Ojibwe in the mid 1830s. In 1840 he was assigned to Norway House at the northern end of Lake Winnipeg in present-day Manitoba. He lost no time in adapting his syllabic writing system to Cree, the language of the First Nations peoples there. Read more about this remarkable writing system here (click). You will recall that this is also the writing system used for Naskapi, and many other Canadian languages.

Rev William Mason

William Mason

Evans was succeeded at the Norway House mission in 1843 by William Mason, who also married Sophia Thomas that same year. Sophia was the daughter of a Cree woman who was married to Hudson’s Bay Company Chief Factor Thomas Thomas. Sylvia Van Kirk (1983) writes:

“Sophia, the youngest daughter of former governor Thomas Thomas, had been placed in the care of the Church of England missionaries at an early age. An apt pupil and “a good pious girl”, she grew up a devout Christian. In 1843, she married the Reverend William Mason and, with her knowledge of Cree and her sincere interest in the welfare of the Indians, was a great help to her husband’s ministry at Norway House. Although she had a delicate constitution, Sophia was reputed to have devoted herself unceasingly to the operation of the Indian day school, visiting the sick, and translating hymns and scripture. Her lasting work was the production of a Cree Bible.

norway houseAnne Lindsay and Jennifer Brown (2009) continue Sophia’s story in an article by the Manitoba Historical Society:

“In 1858 the Masons moved to England where they oversaw printing of the New and Old Testament in Cree syllabics. These printed Cree syllabic texts were credited only to William Mason, which set off complaints from Native co-workers John Sinclair and the Reverend Henry Bird Steinhauer that they had contributed substantially to the work. William Mason’s own remarks suggest that his wife’s role in the translations was considerable. Sophia Thomas Mason, whose health had always been delicate, began to suffer pleurisy soon after arriving in England, and her work on translations was often stopped when she was overwhelmed by pain. In July 1861 she gave birth to her ninth child, and in the fall of that year the last of the Old Testament books was printed in Cree syllabics. On 10 October 1861 she died of tuberculosis.”

Sophia’s husband’s journal entry on her death stated, She has been spared to accomplish a great work, the Cree Bible; and to bear such a testimony for Jesus amongst the heathen, by the patience with which she suffered, and her zeal and persevering labours to make known the glorious Gospel of salvation…”

Joseph Lofthouse (1922) wrote, “The translation of the Bible into Cree was to a very large extent the work of Mrs. Mason, who was a native of Red River, had grown up amongst the Indians, and understood their language perfectly. It is the most idiomatic and by far the best translation that has ever been made in Cree. … Mrs. Mason on her dying bed finished the last chapter of this marvelous book, which has been such a blessing to the Indians of the whole north country.”

IMG_7782

Mason Cree Bible at St. Matthew’s Church, Kingfisher Lake, Ontario

It is this book that even today sits on the pulpits of hundreds of churches in First Nations communities across Canada, from Hudson’s Bay to the Rocky Mountains.

As you can see from the map, Cree territory covers a vast area and indeed includes several distinct language varieties. Linguistic work over the past half century has documented these varieties, and their characteristics are described in the Ethnologue. (click the link for more information). In many cases, the contemporary language variety spoken in these communities is quite different from the dialect of Cree used in Mason’s Bible. In these situations, previous generations of speakers learned to read the “Plains Cree” syllabics, and this practice developed a hierarchy of bi-literate “experts” who served as catechists, deacons, lay-readers and clergy, and these persons were able to teach others in their own language variety by translating from Mason’s Bible.

Mason Cree LanguagesOver the years, some of the linguists who study these languages have quipped that “God Speaks Cree”, referring to the special position that the Mason Cree Bible holds in the hearts of many speakers of different varieties of Cree, Ojibwe and Oji-Cree. Indeed the situation is similar to the way the King James Bible is held in high esteem in many Protestant churches, or even, in communities where the local language is very different from the Cree in the Mason Bible, the situation may be compared to the way the Latin language was revered in Catholic churches before Vatican II allowed services in the local languages.

The copy that Bill is working from here pictured belonged to a member of the congregation at St. Matthew’s Church in Kingfisher Lake, Ontario. You can see how it is well-worn from use, and many pages have detailed annotations by the user.

IMG_8548

Mason Cree Bible annotated in Oji-Cree

But because of a fundamental shift in the way literacy skills are passed on in these First Nations communities, many younger speakers of these Aboriginal languages are growing up not being able to understand the language in the Mason Cree Bible, making it necessary to produce contemporary translations and other language materials in the mother-tongue of the local community.

Nevertheless, the Mason Cree Bible still holds a place of honour and stature across Cree territory, and for that reason one of the priorities of the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative is to produce a modern, digital publication of the legacy Mason Cree Bible. The Bible Society arranged to have the text keyboarded in the early 1990s, and in recent months is reviewing it for consistency and standardization.

To do this, reviewers compare the keyboarded digital version (either in a printout or on-screen) to a printed copy of the 1908 Mackay revision. Since Bill can read the syllabic script, he is participating in the efforts to complete the review along with other Plains Cree speakers and facilitators. Here pictured is an example of the review process from the book of Leviticus.

Leviticus Chapter 5 at verse 11

Leviticus Chapter 5 at verse 11

Mason Cree digital version @ Leviticus 5:11

Mason Cree digital version @ Leviticus 5:11

Print version compared with digital version

Print version compared with digital version

Once the review work is done, not only will we be able to once again provide new and improved printed copies of this much-loved volume, but the text will also serve as an interactive, searchable digital resource that may be accessed on computers and handheld devices and also used as a reference work for contemporary Cree and Oji-Cree Bible translation work by translators for years to come.

This post has been an extended feature on the topic of just one of the “priorities” identified by the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative. Keep watching for other posts right that feature some of the other “priorities”, including the following components of the vision:

  • (Cuthand) Plains Cree Translation project
  • Oji-Cree Translation project
  • Mother-Tongue Translator (MTT) Workshops
  • Naskapi Old Testament Translation project
  • Mushuau Innu language project

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Please also remember our daughter Elizabeth who is in Labrador this week with the “Labrador Creative Arts Festival” (LCAF)
https://www.facebook.com/131612796945171/photos/a.594239127349200.1073741827.131612796945171/594248440681602/?type=1&fref=nf&pnref=story

References:

Lindsay, Anne, and Jennifer Brown.  2009. “Sophia Thomas Mason, Cree Translator”, in Memorable Manitobans, The Manitoba Historical Society. Accessed November 20, 2014.
http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/people/mason_st.shtml.

Lofthouse, Joseph. 1922. A Thousand Miles From a Post Office, or, Twenty Years’ Life and Travel in the Hudson’s Bay Regions. Toronto: Macmillan Co. of Canada.

Peel, Bruce. 2003. “Thomas, Sophia”, in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9, University of Toronto/Université Laval. Accessed November 20, 2014. http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/thomas_sophia_9E.html.

Van Kirk, Sylvia. 1983. Many Tender Ties: Women in Fur-Trade Society, 1670-1870. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

Northern Translation Brief 14Nov2014

Our Dear Partners,

You remember over the past few months our “briefs” have focused on our broadened vision and expanding activities in First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building across Canada. Starting from what God is doing with the Naskapi community in northern Quebec, He is leading us to other related language groups that also have a deep need to hear God speak to them in their languages as well. The Naskapi people are very closely related to people at a community in Labrador called “Natuashish”, where the Mushuau Innu language is spoken. We expected to be there during these weeks of November, but God had other plans for now. We may be able to be back there in February.

Our gathering with First Nations speakers and church stakeholders in Prince Albert in June identified several other priorities beyond our starting point with the Naskapi in northeast Canada, including the following:

  • The continued work on bringing the legacy (Mason) Plains Cree Bible to publication
  • The continued work on the contemporary (Cuthand) Plains Cree text through consultant checking and preparation for publication
  • The establishment of a Bible Translation / Language development project for Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree (and the surrounding Oji-Cree communities)
  • The establishment of a “Pan-Cree” Bible Translation initiative that would result in a cluster of several dialects working on the translation of the same passage(s) at once. This Cree cluster would get its start with a series of Mother-Tongue Translator (MTT) training workshops, targeted at training speakers identified from each participating community. The workshops would include training in Cree syllabics, use of computers, Cree language and literacy (reading and writing), and have as their goal the translation of some short but worthy and useful passage of Scripture for each community. These workshops would also include participation of translators from First Nations across Canada, including Naskapi, Innu and Oji-Cree.

Besides these four, our work still continues on other priorities that are connected to the Capacity-Building initiative:

  • The continued work on Naskapi Old Testament translation, scripture engagement, and translator training.
  • The continued connection and relationship-building with the Mushuau Innu language community in Labrador.

Cree Map July 2014a

Over our next few “Translation Briefs”, we would like to take you deeper into each one of these priorities; how God is at work in these areas and how you might continue to pray for these language groups. As we shared with our friends and supporters during our Partnership Development tour last month, that “multiplication” (not just “addition”) is one way these priorities will be met: So pray with us that the Lord of the Harvest will send additional team members to join us in this work. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “…There is a real opportunity here for great and worthwhile work…” (1 Corinthians 16:9).
So in the next few days, we’ll send out a Translation Brief about the Mason Plains Cree Bible.

Until then, thanks for your interest in our work and your prayers.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Please also remember our daughter Elizabeth who is going to Labrador this week and making a visit to the Natuashish Mushuau-Innu community with the “Labrador Creative Arts Festival” (LCAF)
https://www.facebook.com/131612796945171/photos/a.594239127349200.1073741827.131612796945171/594248440681602/?type=1&fref=nf&pnref=story

Northern Translation Brief 17Oct2014

Our dear partners,

Yesterday we passed the 8000-mile mark (highway miles) in our Fall 2014 discovery and ministry tour. We have been on the road since August 24 and we still have weeks to go. Thank you for your prayers for safety and travel mercies.IMG_8422

As you remember, the first half of our trip also had us putting on air-miles as well, as we flew up to Kingfisher Lake, Ontario to meet with the Oji-Cree speakers there who are eager to begin their own Bible translation project (500 mile round trip). Then we met with Canadian Bible Society folks in Kitchener, Ontario for a few days before going back up to Kawawachikamach, where we were thoroughly encouraged by the Naskapi Bible translation and Scripture engagement progress (2000 mile round trip).

Over the past two weeks we visited with old friends, supporters and encouragers, and with new friends and their churches in Sutton VT, Baltimore MD, Pinehurst NC, Kennesaw GA, Clearwater FL, Chatsworth GA, Piedmont SC, Zebulon NC, Linthicum Heights MD, and Wynnewood PA. Along the way we shared our vision for the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative–training mother-tongue First Nations translators to gain the skills need to meet their Bible translation needs.

We still have several appointments yet, including Newport RI (Fri), Waterford CT (Sat), Derry NH (Sun), Old Mystic CT (Mon), Norwich CT (next Sunday Oct 26) and Houghton NY (Monday Oct 27)In between we are attending the Algonquian Linguistics Conference held at the Mohegan Tribal Nation in Uncasville, CT, where Bill is making a presentation about Naskapi adult literacy and grammar.

Finally we will point west and head back to British Columbia arriving the first weekend of November.

What kind of trip is a “discovery and ministry tour”? Much of it has been ministering to First Nations people with a view to providing them with access to the Scriptures in their language. But the other part of this tour is to share this vision with all of you who read these messages. Missionaries used to call these “deputation” trips, and these days the jargon calls them “partnership development” or “PD”. These are not just veiled references to “support raising”, because the goal is to engage you all in the vision that God has given us, and invite you to share in it in a personal way. IMAG0040Many of you have indicated their willingness to begin to or continue to pray for us; and some have indicated that they would be participating in helping to fund our work by giving to Wycliffe for our support. The fact is, our leadership has urged us to bring our support level up to 100% as we launch out into this initiative that has the potential of putting God’s Word into so many more hearts that are still waiting to hear. If you feel that God is prompting you to begin to partner with us in this way and to meet our support shortfall, please contact us and we will show you how you can do that, or visit the Wycliffe websites:

Wycliffe USA
https://www.wycliffe.org/partner/Jancewicz

Wycliffe Canada
http://www.wycliffe.ca/wycliffe/our_community/profile.jsp?uuid=6ef10f1468

Blessings, Bill and Norma Jean

contact us:
bill_jancewicz@sil.org
normajean_jancewicz@sil.org

read other installments of these “Northern Translation Briefs”
bill.jancewicz.com

Kingfisher Lake

Our Dear Partners,

Kingfisher Lake is one of a dozen Oji-Cree speaking First Nations communities in Northern Ontario. We spent the first week of September here meeting with church and community leadership, educators, elders, and other residents about the possibilities of helping them set up their own Bible translation program. They reminded us once again that for decades their church and people have had to get by with translations used by the surrounding languages (Moose Cree, Plains Cree, and Ojibwe) but they don’t yet have adequate access to the Scriptures in their own language. They were gracious, and we listened to them tell us about their desire to begin their own language project to address some of these needs.IMG_7831 IMG_7830 IMG_7829

On the last day of our visit, they met with us to say that they would be forming their own translation committee, and invited us to come back again to begin training them to start their own Bible translation project. We made plans to go back to see them in mid-winter.

We drove down through Thunder Bay and Michigan and we are now at the Bible Society offices in Kitchener, Ontario, where we will be meeting with them over the next few days to talk about progress with the Oji-Cree, Naskapi, Innu and Cree translation programs.

Thank you for your prayers for our travels and meetings. We went another 2000 miles by car since we last checked in with you all last week.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Summer 2014 Newsletter (Part 2)

In the previous post, we told you about several priorities that came out of the Prince Albert meetings with First Nations language speakers and church leaders:

  1. Acceleration and continuation of the Plains Cree Bible Translation project.
  2. The establishment of a Bible Translation and language development project for Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree and the surrounding Oji-Cree communities.
  3. The establishment of a Bible translation initiative that would result in a cluster of several Cree dialects working on the translation of the same books. This cluster could get its start with a series of workshops to train Cree speakers from each participating community in Bible translation and literacy (reading and writing) which would also include Naskapi from Quebec, Oji-Cree from Ontario and Innu from Labrador.

Multiplication as a sustainable strategy
This brings us back to Jesus’ story that we referred to in the previous post. God has been using us primarily in the Naskapi community–and He is still doing a great work there. Now, we are being invited to grow from there, and use our Naskapi project experience as a model and training opportunity for other communities. Cree Map July 2014aTo fulfill this vision, we are asking God to send us six to eight new workers (that is, three or more new teams) who are willing to be trained and mentored to serve alongside the mother-tongue speakers of these languages in these new priority areas in Bible translation and language development.
While we are here in Langley BC, we are also connecting with CanIL, the Canadian Institute of Linguistics at Trinity Western University. CanIL is the Wycliffe and SIL International training partner in Canada. It is a good opportunity for us to present the language program needs to students that God has already been calling into this kind of ministry.
We will also be developing and deepening relationships with other First Nations language speakers and their communities that have been waiting for adequate access to the Scriptures in their mother tongue. At the same time, we will work on establishing learning opportunities so that more First Nations mother tongue speakers can become translators for their own languages, building their capacity for literacy and material development, while recruiting, guiding and mentoring the new language program workers God brings into these priority projects.

Fall development trip
This September-October we will be traveling to Cree, Oji-Cree and Naskapi communities to continue developing these relationships and to provide language and literacy training to Naskapi teachers and mother-tongue translators. We will also be meeting with Canadian Bible Society and First Nations church leaders to coordinate and support each others’ work on this initiative. Along the way, we also plan to visit with many of you who support our work with prayers and gifts to share our new and expanded vision and responsibility.
–To Be Concluded in Part 3

 

Summer 2014 Newsletter (Part 1)

Summer 2014 img1There is a story that Jesus tells in the Bible about a king who summoned his servants and entrusted them each with a sum of money as an investment (Luke 19:11-27). This story teaches about being faithful in serving God with the things he has given us, but what is interesting about this particular story are the rewards that the faithful servants receive: ‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
The First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative

Our Dear Partners,

Our work in Naskapi territory has begun to bear fruit. We have spent many years focusing on Bible Translation and Mother-Tongue education in a single community where Naskapi is spoken, in northern Quebec. It has been our privilege to witness a gradual transformation where more and more people are engaging with God’s Word in Naskapi. This June, two Naskapi women, Cheyenne and Marianne, joined us at a gathering for First Nations Bible Translation capacity-building, We heard them share how having the Bible in Naskapi has helped them in their relationship to God:Summer 2014 img2

While testimonies like these are very encouraging to us on many levels, it is very significant that this was shared with some of their fellow First-Nations people from related Cree and Oji-Cree language communities across Canada’s north. Our meetings this June with people from First Nations communities has opened doors for work in these languages. Our dialogue with them identified several priorities:

  1. Acceleration and continuation of the Plains Cree Bible Translation project.
  2. The establishment of a Bible Translation and language development project for Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree and the surrounding Oji-Cree communities.
  3. The establishment of a Bible translation initiative that would result in a cluster of several Cree dialects working on the translation of the same books. This cluster could get its start with a series of workshops to train Cree speakers from each participating community in Bible translation and literacy (reading and writing) which could also include Naskapi from Quebec, Oji-Cree from Ontario and Innu from Labrador.

—To Be Continued in Part 2

 

Northern Translation Brief: Redrawing the Map

Our dear partners and “followers” (*),

In the last post, I had a map with a plan of our meeting with some Cree language speakers and church leaders at Prince Albert for the “First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Gathering“. God is clearly still at work in these northern communities, and it became clear that the speakers of these languages do indeed want help from Wycliffe and the Bible Society with their Bible translation projects.

First Nations Capacity Building Map1aCheyenne and Marianne did come from the Naskapi community, and they shared effectively how God’s Word in their own language has deepened their relationship to Him. But one of the new things that we learned was the translation need in the “Severn Ojibwe” language. Look at the map where it says “Prince Albert”. Right under that sign are several isolated communities of Severn Ojibwe speakers, also known as “Oji-Cree”. Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, a speaker from the Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree community, shared her heart’s desire to see the Scriptures made available in her mother-tongue. Her plea, along with the other priority projects put forth by the group, are the beginning of an initiative to answer all the remaining First Nations Bible Translation needs in Canada.

See if you can find the new locations on the map that were missing from the first one:

unlabeled CNM mapWe meet again by Conference Call this week with the working group to plan our next steps towards these goals:

  1. Acceleration and continuation of the Plains Cree Bible Translation project.
  2. The establishment of a Bible Translation and language development project for Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree and the surrounding Oji-Cree communities.
  3. The establishment of a Bible translation initiative that would result in a cluster of several Cree dialects working on the translation of the same books. This cluster could get its start with a series of workshops to train Cree speakers from each participating community in Bible translation and literacy (reading and writing) which could also include Naskapi from Quebec, Oji-Cree from Ontario and Mushuau Innu from Labrador.

Also, be watching this space during the coming week for a serial version of our Summer Newsletter that was mailed out today.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

(*) I understand that people who do websites like this one, that some call “blogs”, also have “followers”. You may apply “partner” or “follower” to yourself as appropriate.

 

Northern Translation Brief 05May2014

Our Dear Partners and Friends,

You prayed last week when we shared about our hopeful possibility that Naskapi church lay-readers Cheyenne and Marianne might be able to come to the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity Building Gathering to be held this June in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

God has been at work and there have been many steps of faith taken in the past week. The administrative director of the Naskapi Development Corporation, (where most of the Naskapi translation work takes place) has authorized the purchase of airfare for Cheyenne and Marianne. Their itinerary has them leaving Schefferville, in Northern Quebec on Sunday afternoon June 8, (the day after Cheyenne’s daughter Amanda’s wedding). They will overnight in Montreal and then go on from there to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, scheduled arrival Monday 12:30 PM. The reservations have been made and the tickets have been bought!

By the time Cheyenne and Marianne arrive in Saskatoon, the Gathering in Prince Albert will have already been going on since Monday Morning, with the National indigenous bishop, other Cree church leaders and speakers, the Bible Society (and us) in attendance. We will be listening to what the Cree think about language development and Bible translation in their own language.

We are adjusting the agenda so that when the Naskapi representatives arrive, they can share how God’s Word came to them, how many are learning to read now because of it, and how they are learning to participate in the Old Testament translation work, and how precious it is to them.

Our prayer is that God will continue to work out the details of this meeting in a way that all the other First Nations languages that still need His message in their mother tongues can begin to participate themselves for their communities as well, and that Norma Jean and I will see and respond to the opportunities we may have to work along side the Cree, Naskapi and Innu people in the languages that speak to their hearts.

Thank you for your prayers. God is hearing and answering!

We look forward to sharing more news of how God is at work in our lives and the lives of those we serve and will be serving in the months and years to come.

Love, Bill and Norma Jean