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.

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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

 

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

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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:

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

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

 

 

Northern Translation Brief: Naskapi Translation Project

Our Dear Partners,

This Northern Translation Brief is a special edition focusing on the Naskapi Translation Project. It is part of a set of special editions that highlight the “priorities” identified by the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative, which so far have featured the following components of the vision:

The Naskapi Translation Project got its start long before we first visited the community of Kawawachikamach in northern Quebec in 1987. Indeed, the story of God at work bringing His message into the language of the Naskapi people is woven deep into their history as a distinct people group. You can read some of that history here: A History of the Naskapis of Schefferville, and, specifically relating to Naskapi literacy and scripture, here: Grammar Enhanced Biliteracy (especially pages 32-54).

We hope that you find this story of the Naskapi translation project interesting–but if you don’t have time to read it all right now, we encourage you to scroll down and read at least how Naskapi people today have connected their vision to the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative.

There is also a narrated video slide-show of the story of the Naskapi Language and Bible Translation on YouTube at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hb0QxyXC8Ig

Naskapi leadership, 1977. Photo Collection LMW, accession number "1977, 5-18" (Ludger Müller-Wille, photographer).

Naskapi leadership, 1977. Photo Collection LMW, accession number “1977, 5-18” Joseph Guanish (chief) 2nd from left at the table. (Ludger Müller-Wille, photographer)

In the 1970s, Joseph Guanish was the chief of the newly-recognized Naskapi Band of Schefferville, later called the Naskapi Nation. joe guanishThroughout his leadership, he consistently expressed a strong vision and influence for Naskapi language development and Bible translation.

During this same period, the North America Branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators was launching a broad survey of the languages in Northern Quebec to determine translation need. Such a need was identified for (at least) Algonquin, James Bay Cree, Montagnais, Atikamekw and Naskapi.

Naskapi MapThe survey workers visited the Naskapi community and not only determined that there was a need for language work, but also met Naskapi community and church leaders who encouraged Wycliffe Bible translators to come and help them.

By 1978, Wycliffe members Lana Martens and Carol Chase had accepted the challenge to begin to help provide the Bible and other materials in the Naskapi language. They were also involved in the other language development projects underway at that time, and were invited to assist with the Naskapi Band’s language projects, including the Naskapi lexicon and a grammar sketch.

That same year, Naskapi leadership presented a brief to the Quebec government requesting assistance in economic and language development. One result of this was the formation of the Naskapi Development Corporation (NDC), the local Naskapi entity mandated with engaging in the work that has resulted in the translation of the Naskapi Bible.

Heath challenges and other circumstances prevented Lana and Carol from continuing their on-site work after 1983. No Naskapi scriptures had been published by that time.

In 1984 we (Norma Jean and Bill) joined Wycliffe Bible Translators while we were studying linguistics at the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) program at the University of Washington. The following year we were accepted for service with the North America Branch of Wycliffe. After completing Bible School undergrad and linguistics training and raising support, we accepted our first assignment to the Naskapi project in 1987. We moved to southern Quebec that year with our children to take a short French course, and then arrived in the Naskapi community Northern Quebec in June of 1988.

Benjamin, Elizabeth and Noah --1988

Benjamin, Elizabeth and Noah –1988

We were welcomed into Noah Einish’s house, a Naskapi elder who was living alone at the time and we still marvel at his generosity and willingness to invite a white family to share his home.

The story of our time in Kawawachikamach from 1988 to the present would fill many books that we are not writing here! But after 4 years of relationship-building and language learning we were invited to be involved with the Naskapi Lexicon (dictionary) project, which was one of the first language development projects taken on by the Naskapi Development Corporation (NDC). By the time this dictionary was published in 1994, the NDC had already committed some of its own resources to several other Naskapi language development projects, including Bible translation.

Naskapi MTT course at Kawawachikamach --1992

Naskapi MTT workshop at Kawawachikamach –1992

A local translation committee was established, starting with a Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) workshop which was held in the community with help from SIL and the Bible Society. This committee helped to guide the translation team on behalf of the community.

Bill helped George Guanish to translate the first scriptures into Naskapi: stories from the life of Christ in the “Walking With Jesus” series by the Canadian Bible Society.

George Guanish --1994

George Guanish “Walking with Jesus” –1994

In 1995, Bill was invited by the local Anglican priest to help him to produce the weekly scripture readings for the Naskapi church. This project was continued year-by-year and eventually led to the publication of the complete Sunday Lectionary readings in 2013.

In 1996, Silas Nabinicaboo was hired by NDC and while being trained by Bill he began to translate the book of Genesis into Naskapi.

Silas Nabinicaboo "Genesis" --1996

Silas Nabinicaboo “Genesis” –1996

In 1997, Peter Einish was hired by NDC and trained to translate the first 10 chapters of Exodus and then the book of Luke. He eventually left the position to continue his education, and in 1999, Noat Einish was hired and trained to continue the Luke project, her first draft was finished in 2001.

Noat Einish, Gospel of Luke --1998

Noat Einish “Gospel of Luke” –1999

In 2001, the James Bay Cree New Testament was dedicated and distributed. This is a Wycliffe translation project in a closely related language that would be used as a primary source text for the Naskapi project. That summer in 2001, the Naskapi team successfully translated the book of Philippians into Naskapi using James Bay Cree for guidance as a source text. The experiment went so well that the team decided that fall that they would work their way through the entire New Testament by this method, continuing with the book of the Acts of the Apostles. This was done by developing an incremental computer-aided adaptation approach coupled with an extensive community-checking and review procedure.

In early 2002, the first draft of the book of Genesis was completed. Silas then joined in the work on the New Testament translation and adaptation project, beginning with the book of Matthew.

In summer 2002, Bill and Joseph Guanish continued to implement the incremental computer-aided adaptation of the Naskapi New Testament. This work continued through the fall and into the spring of 2003, with the result that the entire Naskapi New Testament was completed in first draft, reviewed and also recorded in audio.

Bill & Joe Guanish New Testament read-through --2003

Bill & Joe Guanish New Testament read-through –2003

In June 2003, we moved to Connecticut to care for Bill’s father. During this period from 2003-2009, Bill traveled to the Naskapi community several times each year, while Silas traveled to Connecticut occasionally. The Naskapi New Testament was fully read-through, community-checked, consultant-checked and prepared for publication.

me&sil2P1010008P1010011 P1010014 P1010015 P1010006On September 16, 2007, the Naskapi New Testament was dedicated at St. John’s Church, Kawawachikamach, with archbishop Bruce Stavert presiding.

Lana Martens at the Naskapi New Testament Dedication -- 2007

Lana Martens at the Naskapi New Testament Dedication — 2007

In October 2007, translation work on the read-through, community-checking and consultant-checking of the book of Genesis commenced, as well as work on drafting all of the remaining Old Testament readings for the Sunday Lectionary.

In March 2009, while we were back in Kawawa to check Old Testament readings and do some literacy training, it was made clear to us that there was a growing desire among the people there to read in Naskapi, and to know more of the scriptures. So, during the summer of 2009 we moved back into the Naskapi community to continue the work in literacy, Old Testament translation and scripture engagement.

Norma Jean connected with the Naskapi curriculum development department at the school, and Bill focused on increasing literature production and taught literacy and reading pedagogy to Naskapi adults. All three years of Old Testament Sunday Lectionary readings were completed and published with the New Testament readings in a week-by-week format.

Three-Year Sunday Lectionary in Naskapi -- 2012

Three-Year Sunday Lectionary in Naskapi — 2012

IMG_4425For five summers, 2009-2013, we also attended and staffed the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) program at the University of North Dakota, while applying the skills we learned to developing Naskapi literacy, resulting in the successful training of several Naskapi teachers and Mother Tongue Translators (MTTs) through the Naskapi-McGill teacher training program. We also saw a marked increase in interest and ability in reading the scriptures in Naskapi, and in Naskapi literacy among adults and children in the community.

Naskapi-McGill teacher training

Naskapi-McGill teacher training

Naskapi Adult Literacy

Naskapi Adult Literacy

During this period, the advances and success in the Naskapi community with regard to language, literacy and education caught the attention of other First Nations leadership beyond the province of Quebec. We accompanied representatives from NDC and the Naskapi Nation and the Naskapi school several times to facilitate the educational development of the Labrador Innu First Nations communities in Sheshatshiu and Natuashish.

Naskapi & Mushuau Map

Mushuau Innu Teacher Training in Natuashish, Labrador

Mushuau Innu Teacher Training in Natuashish, Labrador

In January of 2013, the Naskapi Development Corporation made a significant needed investment in human resources by recruiting and training for four additional full-time “Language Specialist” positions. Over the years, the NDC’s work on many of its language projects had progressed somewhat slowly partly because of the limited number of adequately trained and experienced language workers.

Four new Naskapi language workers -- 2013

Four new Naskapi language workers — 2013

These new translators followed new Naskapi language training modules developed by Bill for the Naskapi teachers, which enhances their reading skills with instruction in Naskapi language structures.

In February 2013, the Old Testament book of Genesis was dedicated at St. John’s Church, Kawawachikamach. This is the first major Old Testament book completed in Naskapi.

In the spring of 2014, we took part in meetings between Wycliffe/SIL and the Canadian Bible Society (CBS) at the CanIL Harvest Centre on the Trinity Western University campus in Langley BC. It became clear to all the representatives from both organizations that more could be done to meet the remaining Bible translation needs evident within the Cree group.
Translation Initiative 2015In light of our own experience in the Naskapi project and the transition of that project toward an increasing level of Naskapi leadership and capacity, we were encouraged by our administrators to seek God’s direction, increase our input and attention to other related language translation needs in Canada, and begin to leverage our own experience and education towards consulting and mentoring new teams and translation projects in these areas.

First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Gathering

In June of 2014, First Nations church leaders and Bible translation resource persons came together for a series of meetings held in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan (follow the link to the Bible Society story about this Gathering). The purpose of this event was to share vision and information, deepen relationships, and to listen to the needs and desires of First Nations people with regard to access to the scriptures in their heart language. Stakeholders and strategic partners (First Nations leadership, the church) began a dialogue towards building Bible translation capacity within First Nations communities to meet those needs, and to discuss interests and future plans to this end that would require coordination and communication.

Bishops Lydia Mamakwa, Mark MacDonald and Adam Halkett

Bishops Lydia Mamakwa, Mark MacDonald and Adam Halkett

One of the most exciting things that God did at this Gathering was to have some of our Naskapi friends and colleagues attend. Cheyenne Vachon and Marianne Chescappio (both of whom are grandchildren of Joseph Guanish, the Naskapi visionary and elder who was instrumental in the Naskapi Bible Translation project) attended the Gathering and shared with the participants how God’s Word in Naskapi has been having an influence on the Naskapi people, their community and their church.

Cheyenne Vachon, Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, Bill and Norma Jean at the Prince Albert Gathering

Cheyenne Vachon, Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, Bill and Norma Jean at the Prince Albert Gathering

Marianne and Cheyenne also brought with them video interviews with other Naskapi church members and elders who shared what having God’s Word in their own language meant to them.

Not only did God use these testimonies powerfully among those who attended the Gathering, but the Naskapi team has also reached out to join in the task to help other First Nations language groups begin to get the practical help they need to translate the Bible into their own languages. They did this by agreeing to host “linguistics interns” who have been called to serve in other First Nations communities across Canada in their own Naskapi community.

Naskapi Linguistics Internships

First Nations communities need translation help from resource partners, including the skills of linguists and specialists equipped to assist with language development tasks, technical training and capacity-building so that they can confidently translate the Bible into their own languages. These linguists and resource partners need to complete their training in a First Nations community where they can learn to be sensitive and respectful to First Nations culture, and to begin to learn First Nations language patterns. This can be accomplished by having these linguistics teams hosted by the Naskapi language project as interns, where they can gain this valuable first-hand experience. At the same time, these linguistics intern teams assist the Naskapi translation team on-site to move the Naskapi projects ahead and help continue to build the capacity of the Naskapi translators.

Matthew and Caitlin Windsor

Matthew and Caitlin Windsor

In August and September of 2015, we brought Matthew and Caitlin Windsor, new members of Wycliffe Canada, to meet the Naskapi translation team. They have responded to the call to serve First Nations by facilitating Bible translation in their languages, and plan to complete their preparation by doing an internship with the Naskapi translators. Lord willing, they will begin their internship with the Naskapi sometime in mid-2016. We invite you to follow their journey at their website “The Windsors Up North“, and to keep them in your prayers.

It is so exciting to see God’s ongoing work in First Nations communities, and especially to see Him begin to use the Naskapi people themselves to encourage and help other First Nations communities to hear God speak to them in their own languages.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean

 

 

 

 

Northern Translation Brief 18Jul2015

Our Dear Partners,

Plains Cree Gospel Audio Recording

Thank you for your prayers for us–yesterday we just finished doing the audio recording of the Gospel of Luke in Plains Cree. Dolores Sand, one of the Plains Cree translators from Saskatchewan, came to the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario to read the text of the Cree Scriptures with Ruth Heeg, the Bible Society translation consultant who has been coordinating the project for the past few years.

We set up a makeshift recording studio in Ruth’s basement, with tables and chairs, microphones and mixing boards, computers and speakers, where for 10 days we recorded and listened, re-recorded and edited, and we all heard the entire book of Luke in Cree at least four times altogether. When we were finished, we had nearly 7 hours of recorded digital audio that Bill will continue to work on, matching sound and tone levels, and adjusting the pace, timing and pauses. So there are still some weeks of work to do before the finished sound files can be sent to the translators so they can listen to it for a final review.

Dolores Sand reads from the Gospel of Luke in Plains Cree

Dolores Sand reads from the Gospel of Luke in Plains Cree

 

Ruth Heeg listening and following along in Cree

Ruth Heeg listening and following along in Cree

When that’s done, the book of Luke will be ready to publish and distribute with Dolores narrating all 24 chapters in her mother tongue for other Cree speakers to read and follow along.

Dolores asked us to begin to make plans to record the remaining Gospels in Plains Cree in the months to come. We are eager to help her do just that.

Oji-Cree Translation Project

For the next two weeks, from July 20-30, we have been asked to return to Kingfisher Lake in northern Ontario to help the Oji-Cree Bible translation team to build on the skills and momentum that they gained at the Mother Tongue Translator workshop in April.

Naskapi Language Project

At the end of August we have plans to go back to work with our friends in the Naskapi language project in northern Quebec. Norma Jean will be working with the Naskapi language teachers on curriculum and literacy, and Bill will be with the translation team and the Naskapi Language Specialists supporting their Old Testament and story projects.

SummerMap2015aThank you for keeping us in your prayers for these trips–we also need your prayers as we keep looking for a place to call home. These last few weeks looking at houses around southern Ontario has been somewhat frustrating. We can’t yet report that we have a new address. So meanwhile between trips we’ll be staying in campgrounds or with friends. God knows our need, and we are still trusting God that He will provide.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean

Northern Translation Brief 03Jul2015

Our Dear Partners,

Since we last connected in a Translation Brief (last month), we have journeyed from the west coast of Canada to the east coast of the US. We have been enjoying connections with family, friends and partners, and we are about to travel again to support First Nations Bible Translation work in Canada.

Plains Cree Translation

From July 7-17, we have been asked to help with the audio recording of the book of Luke in Plains Cree. Dolores and Gayle, the Cree translators, have completed their translation and review of the Luke’s Gospel, and the Canadian Bible Society is facilitating a recording session in Kitchener-Waterloo Ontario. I (Bill) will work with the Bible Society translation consultant and assist with the recording procedure, as Dolores reads through the book. When the recording is made, edited and approved, it will accompany the printed text of the book of Luke, and also be available for Plains Cree speakers to listen to and hear the new translation of this portion of scripture in their own language.

Please pray that God will be in the details for the whole 10 days, helping us with travel, technical details and good relationships for this project.

You can read more about the Plains Cree translation project here:

http://bill.jancewicz.com/2014/12/11/northern-translation-brief-cuthand-plains-cree-translation/

Oji-Cree Translation

From July 20-30, we will be traveling up to the Oji-Cree Kingfisher Lake community in northern Ontario.

During our days in Kingfisher, we will be meeting with the translation team leadership to discuss their vision and plans for the work of the Oji-Cree translators, and their local translation committee.

We will also be working each day with the translators themselves, to help them gain capacity, learn about how and to move ahead on their translation project work, set intermediate and long-term goals, help them with the technical skills they need, and engage in more practice and training.

Please pray for our trip north to Kingfisher, for the Oji-Cree translation team and committee, and all the details, goals and relationships

You can read more about the Oji-Cree translation project here:

http://bill.jancewicz.com/2015/01/24/northern-translation-brief-kingfisher-lake-oji-cree/

Looking for a “home base”

As many of you may remember from a previous post, we are in the process of relocating to the greater Toronto region to better serve the various First Nations Bible Translation projects that we partner with across northern Canada. During the days of our work this month with the Plains Cree and the Oji-Cree, we will also be meeting with real estate representatives, visiting houses, looking online and listening for God’s leading as to our next new address.

Home to First Nations MapPlease pray for wisdom, direction and provision as we look for a new place to work from and call “home” when we are not in one of the host First Nations communities.

Later in August, we have plans to travel to northern Quebec to continue to support the Naskapi language project in Kawawachikamach. More details about that work in another post.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean

 

 

Northern Translation Brief: Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) Workshop

Our Dear Partners,

IMG_9839-40When the First Nations representatives and church leaders met with us in Prince Albert last June (click here for the story), 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 coordination and assistance from our friends at the Canadian Bible Society translation office in Kitchener, Ontario, we planned and facilitated the 2015 Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) Workshop held at the Guelph Bible Conference Centre from April 20th to the 24th. Speakers of First Nations languages from three communities were able to come to this first workshop, which was a “re-boot” of a series of annual workshops that were started in the early 1990s for North American translators, initially held at the “Christian Hope Indian Eskimo Fellowship” (CHIEF) in Phoenix, AZ, and later at the SIL Mexico Branch Center in Catalina, AZ.

MTT workshop in Catalina, 2002

Naskapi translators at an MTT workshop in Catalina AZ, 2002

Over the years, many First Nations, Native American and translators from other minority language groups have improved their translation skills by attending these workshops. The Naskapi language team in particular has benefited by attending these–but unfortunately the workshops were discontinued after the last one was held in 2011, in Sydney Nova Scotia.

Even though some of the Naskapi translators had been to the workshops several times through the years (George, Silas, Seasi) most of participants had never been to one, and needed to start at the beginning. A very good place to start.

First Nations Translators from across Canada

It’s expensive to travel in and out of the North, and plans were already being made last fall to secure funding for the participants to come together this spring in Guelph. The Anglican Healing Fund provided a significant portion of the money needed to pay the airfare and accommodations for most of the Naskapi and Oji-Cree translators to travel from their communities. Although our intention was to include translators from several different language communities, in the end only three translation projects were represented at the workshop: Naskapi, Oji-Cree, and Plains Cree.

WorkshopMap2015Besides the translation team from the Naskapi translation project (six persons: Silas Nabinicaboo, Tshiueten Vachon, Amanda Swappie, Medora Losier, Kissandra Sandy and Kabimbetas Mokoush), the Naskapi school also sent along a Naskapi language teacher Seasi Swappie and their curriculum development technician Jessica Nattawappio.

Oji-Cree translators from Kingfisher Lake

Oji-Cree translators from Kingfisher Lake

The Naskapi Nation sent their senior translator George Guanish, and Cheyenne Vachon, the project coordinator for Status of Women in Canada for the Naskapi Nation and church lay-reader.

The newly-formed Oji-Cree translation committee selected five persons from the Kingfisher Lake community to be trained as translators: Ruth Kitchekesik, Zipporah Mamakwa, Jessie Atlookan, Theresa Sainnawap, and Ruth Morris. Bishop Lydia Mamakwa accompanied them on their first day.

The Plains Cree translation project sent one of their translators, Gayle Weenie.

A Full and Varied Schedule

Each day of the workshop began with hymn singing in Cree, which is a language through which much of the sacred music tradition came into First Nations churches across Canada. We took into account language differences, learned to sing one anothers’ favourite songs, and also learned something about the linguistic relationships that connect the language varieties that were represented.

We also had daily devotions, reading the Bible (when the translation was available) in the languages that are represented, and having a short Bible study.Screen shot 2015-05-02 at 10.33.11 PM

The first session every morning covered Bible Translation skills. The learning alternated between using lessons from “Bible Translation Basics: Communicating Scripture in a Relevant Way” which focuses on communication theory, and modules from “Bible Translation Principles” which focuses on distinguishing the “form” from the “meaning” of the message. 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.

Each day after the lunch break we had basic training in 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. Most of the participants had never used this software, so we were careful to start very gradually.

Plains Cree Translation in ParaTExt

Plains Cree Translation in ParaTExt

Also, the entire Oji-Cree team received a set of five new laptop computers to bring back to Kingfisher Lake with them, along with a new printer and data projector for their translation committee. This needed equipment was provided thanks to support from the Canadian Bible Society translation office. They received training in keyboarding in their own language, and some basic computer skills for beginners.

ParaTExt with the New Oji-Cree translation

The New Oji-Cree translation in ParaTExt

Other modules covered throughout the week included such topics as “From God to Us: Bible Translation and History”, “Planning the future of our language”, “The Algonquian Language Family” and the importance of personal Bible knowledge for translators.

Preparing for a “consultant-check”

During the whole workshop, the participants all learned something about the process of Bible translation–but simply getting the message into the words of your own language is just the beginning. Tuesday of the workshop we focused on some of the next steps that are necessary after a “first draft” is produced.

Steve Kempf teaches about translation checking

Steve Kempf teaches about translation checking

Steve Kempf, a certified translation consultant with SIL International (Wycliffe Bible Translators) who has had many years of experience and specializes in Old Testament source material came to be with us Tuesday, and presented two modules about the necessity and procedure for checking a translation. He covered working together as a translation team and the importance of thoroughly checking the naturalness and clarity of a translation with other speakers of the language throughout the community. He provided methods and examples of how to do this on a regular basis as sections of a translation are written.

Naskapi translator Tshiueten Vachon, checking Exodus with consultant Steve Kempf, and team-members Amanda Swappie, Jessica Nattawappio, and George Guanish

Naskapi translator Tshiueten Vachon, checking Exodus with consultant Steve Kempf, and team-members Amanda Swappie, Jessica Nattawappio, and George Guanish

He also provided a “live” demonstration of some of the ways that a translation consultant like himself works with the translation team to help them to ensure that the translation is both accurate (faithful to the original) and acceptable (how the readers perceive a translation as trustworthy). To do this, the Naskapi translation team provided him with their draft translation and a back-translation (a literal translation of the Naskapi back into English) of the book of Exodus, one of the current active Naskapi translation projects. After examining the translation during the weeks before the workshop, Steve conducted a consultant-checking session with the translator and other Naskapi participants as a demonstration to the rest of the workshop attendees of what to expect when a consultant comes to check their translations.

Encouraging Connections

The workshop participants were not only encouraged by each other, finding that their vocation of Bible Translation into their own language was shared by speakers from other First Nations language communities from across Canada,

Bishop Lydia Mamakwa

Bishop Lydia Mamakwa

but also we were visited by church and organizational leaders who are counted as partners and friends of the First Nations Bible Translation movement. Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, the first bishop of a new indigenous diocese in the Anglican Church of Canada, the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh, accompanied the new Oji-Cree translation team from the community of Kingfisher Lake in northern Ontario. We were pleased to have her encouragement and fellowship for the first full day of the workshop on Monday.

Dr. Myles Leitch

Dr. Myles Leitch

Dr. Myles Leitch, the newly appointed Director of Scripture Translation for the Canadian Bible Society, came to observe the workshop and greet the participants on Wednesday morning, staying for lunch and connecting with some of the workshop organizers and facilitators. The Canadian Bible Society played a significant role in seeing that this workshop was a success, by making arrangements for the venue and providing on site technical and administrative support. Sharon Peddle and Tom Ortiz from the translation office assisted during the week, and Bible Society translation consultant Ruth Heeg participated and provided her help and input for the entire workshop.

Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald

Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald

The Right Reverend Mark MacDonald, the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, visited the workshop on Wednesday afternoon and encouraged the participants in their work. He reminded us all that the Bible is a “…sacred book, a miraculous book, (ᐁᒫᒪᐦᑳᑌᐣᑖᑿᐦᐠ  ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑲᐣ e-maamahkaatentaakwahk masinahikan) that changes people’s hearts and minds. It is a living thing. When something is translated into another language, usually something is lost. But the Bible is the only thing that the more you translate it the more you get. So when we translate it into our languages you know more about God. When I tell you what Jesus has done in my life, you know more about Jesus.”

He also told the participants that it’s just not their own communities, but that people all across the land are really excited about this workshop, and are supporting and praying for them. He said that it is his hope that it will grow and grow until every First Nations community across the land is doing what they are doing–that the participants in this workshop are the ones “breaking trail”, and making the way for the others to follow.

Fellowship and fellow-SHOP

Most of the workshop participants come from home communities that are very remote in the far north of Canada. Indeed, even though they traveled by air, it took most of them two days to come to the workshop from where they live. So during their free time, arrangements were made for them to visit the local shopping mall and department stores–an opportunity that many readers of this report may take for granted but is impossible to do in the remote areas where the participants live. All the workshop participants gladly took advantage of this opportunity and were able to get many things that they have been saving up for or special gifts or treats to bring to family back home.

We also enjoyed a dinner “out” at a local Chinese buffet restaurant together, another treat that was very deeply appreciated by all the participants and the facilitators.

IMG_9959-royal cityOn 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:

IMG_9969“I feel more encouraged and refreshed in my job as translator.”

“I felt that I have helped other in starting their own translation projects.”

“I have learned some great ideas for how translation goes; for example, what materials and helps are available to use.”

“I felt blessed to involve myself in this workshop: meeting different Nations and learning about similar cultures and languages to my own. I liked the teamwork, involvement and singing together the best.”

“I felt that I learned that there was more that I could do for my community.”

All of the participants indicated that it was a privilege to come and would definitely want to come to future workshops to learn more.

At the end of the last session the participants were awarded certificates of completion, and the workshop was closed with hymn singing in Cree, prayers and good-byes.

Many thanks to all of you who faithfully prayed for us all during this workshop, to all who contributed their time, expertise, and money to make this workshop a success and inspiration for all who attended. We would like to especially thank the congregation at Harvest Church in Byron, Georgia, USA for their generous support to the Wycliffe Bible Translators’ “Western Cree Partnership” project, which supports this initiative to build Bible translation capacity in First Nations communities in Canada.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

PS: We include a collection of photographs below taken throughout the workshop.

Configuring the computers at the Bible Society office before the workshop

Norma Jean with the new computers being configured before the workshop

Gathering all the workshop materials at the Bible Society translation office

Gathering all the workshop materials at the Bible Society translation office

The Naskapi team arrives in Guelph from the airport

The Naskapi team arrives in Guelph from the airport

The Oji-Cree translation team

The Oji-Cree translation team: Ruth K, Theresa, Jessie, Zipporah and Ruth M.

We brought Lydia to the airport on Monday evening

We brought Lydia to the airport on Monday evening

Seasi and Jessica from the Naskapi School

Seasi and Jessica from the Naskapi School

Bill shows Kabimbetas and Tshiueten how to use ParaTExt

Bill shows Kabimbetas and Tshiueten how to use ParaTExt

Ruth Heeg helps Gayle with Plains Cree

Ruth Heeg helps Gayle with Plains Cree

Seasi and Jessica learning with Kissandra and Medora

Seasi and Jessica learning with Kissandra and Medora

Gayle and Lydia--Handcrafts after the workshop

Gayle and Lydia–Handcrafts after the workshop

Ruth K--Handcrafts after the workshop

Ruth K–Handcrafts after the workshop

Zipporah--Handcrafts after the workshop

Zipporah–Handcrafts after the workshop

Myles Leitch observes the workshop on Wednesday morning

Myles Leitch observes the workshop on Wednesday morning

Bishop Mark at Wednesday's supper

Bishop Mark at Wednesday’s supper

Tshiueten, Kabimbetas and Cheyenne at mealtime

Tshiueten, Kabimbetas and Cheyenne at mealtime

Learning to work together on the Internet (in the lounge)

Learning to work together on the Internet (in the lounge)

All the participants received certificates

All the participants received certificates

Waiting for the long trip home

Waiting for the long trip home

Northern Translation Brief 06Apr2015

Our Dear Partners,

When the speakers of the First Nations languages that are still waiting for adequate access to the Bible in their mother tongue met with us last year in Prince Albert <click here>, one of the things that they requested was training and learning opportunities for speakers of these languages to gain translation skills of their own. This training became a central component of the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative. This month, we are conducting a Mother-Tongue Translator (MTT) Workshop at the Guelph Bible Conference Centre in Guelph, Ontario.

WorkshopMap2015We have invited First Nations language speakers from across Canada who are interested or already engaged in working in their own languages for translation and language development. An intentional component of this workshop is integrating experienced mother tongue translators with beginners, and bringing together those who are already engaging with the scriptures in their own language with those who still have no such access.

The response has been encouraging, and we have been working hard at preparing the program of study and learning modules for the week of the workshop. Our ministry and technical partner, the Canadian Bible Society, is sponsoring the workshop and we will share the facilitation of the workshop sessions with them. IMG_8869The Oji-Cree Bible Translation committee from Kingfisher Lake <link> has identified and recruited five Oji-Cree speakers from their community, Ruth K, Ruth M, Zipporah, Theresa, and Jessie, who will come and be trained at this workshop. The Bible Society has also helped to meet some of the practical needs of this group by providing five new laptop computers, a printer and a projector for the day-to-day use of their translation team. We will give them the initial training they need to get started, and they will bring their computers back to their community to continue their translation work in the months to come. Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, one of the catalysts for the Kingfisher Lake project, hopes to also come to address the group.gayle1

Gayle, one of the Plains Cree speakers who has worked for many years on the (Cuthand) Plains Cree <link> translation project will be with us for the workshop, and will be working on some of the consultant checking and review of these scriptures.

The “Fantastic Four“, (Amanda, Kissandra, Kabimbetas, and Medora) the new team of Naskapi Language Specialists, working on four different books of the Naskapi Old Testament <link> in Kawawachikamach are all coming to continue their language development and translation training, and also to be introduced to the new software programs that they need to master to become better at their translation work. IMG_5044They are joined by two more experienced members of the Naskapi translation team, Silas and Tshiueten who have worked most recently on the books of Genesis <link> and Exodus, respectively. Also from the Naskapi community we will welcome George who is not only a community leader but also an experienced translator who has been involved in bringing the Naskapi scriptures to his people for the past 20 years. He will be joined by Cheyenne, a church lay-reader and educator who leads a Naskapi Bible study, and Seasi and Jessica who work at the Naskapi school in Naskapi language literacy and teaching.

The schedule includes translation principles and basics, courses in the use of specialized translation software, commentaries and reference works, as well as times for discussion of “best practices” and resources for Bible translation teams that are managed and directed by their own local community and church members. There will also be devotional Bible studies and time to sing hymns (in Cree, Naskapi and Oji-Cree) and sharing and fellowship.

Bill and Norma Jean will be arriving in the Guelph, Ontario area from British Columbia on April 15, IMG_8762the Wednesday before the workshop to spend time with the rest of the workshop facilitation team at the Bible Society offices for the final preparations and configuring the new computers for the Oji-Cree translators. The participants will begin traveling to the workshop from their home communities on Friday, April 17–it will take most of them two or three days to travel to the workshop location. The workshop itself will be Monday to Friday, the week of April 20-24, all day long each day. On Friday afternoon, most of the participants will begin their long journeys back to their home language communities to apply the new things that they have learned and to continue working on their communities’ Bible translation and language development projects.

We have listed all the names of the participants so that you can pray for them by name–we would also request that you pray for the workshop and all the participants and the facilitators each day of the workshop, and for travel mercies and safety before and after. Some of the younger women participants are expectant mothers, and long travels and a busy workshop can be especially difficult for them–we know that they would appreciate your prayers as well.

Thank you once again for your interest and for sharing our vision for the First Nations Bible translation movement.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Partners in the USA can connect through Wycliffe USA:
https://www.wycliffe.org/partner/Jancewicz

Partners in Canada can connect through Wycliffe Canada’s website:
https://www.wycliffe.ca/wycliffe/m?Jancewicz

Northern Translation Brief: “Cuthand” Plains Cree Translation

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.

This time, we are telling about the (Cuthand) Plains Cree translation. Plains Cree is a language spoken across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta in Canada, and even in some places in Montana in the US. In Cree, the language is called ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐍᐏᐣ nēhiyawēwin.

Of all the Cree language varieties, Plains Cree is the most widely spoken, with more than 70 communities identified, population in these communities ranging from a few hundred persons to a few communities with population of two thousand or more. The population of fluent speakers is diminishing, especially in the communities in the southern part of their territory. However, in the north and more remote communities Cree is still the primary language.

plains cree review5The Bible Society, First Nations church leaders, and Wycliffe/SIL have had some involvement in a Plains Cree Bible translation project since the early 1970s. In the 1980s, the Canadian Bible Society hired Rev. Stan Cuthand, an ordained minister of the Anglican Church of Canada, and a fluent Cree speaker from the Little Pine First Nation, to work on a contemporary Plains Cree translation of the Bible. Over the past two decades, Stan completed the first draft of the New Testament and roughly half of the Old Testament.

plains cree review3Stan Cuthand, now in his 90s, is the recipient of many awards of recognition for his contributions to the Plains Cree language and culture. As his health has declined, he has “passed the torch” for work on the Cree Bible to others now.

The first draft of any translation is subject to a thorough checking process before it can be published and distributed. These steps are necessary to ensure the accuracy, clarity, and naturalness of the translation. For various reasons, including a lack of resources and personnel, this process has moved ahead very slowly in recent years. Still, there are some members of the translation team that have persisted and the Bible Society has published several Scripture portions of this translation, including the Gospel of Mark, selected Psalms, the Book of Ruth and the Epistle of James.

plains cree review4These are all published in discript: that is, both in the Cree syllabic script and in roman (alphabetic) characters, and include a CD as an “audio book”.

http://www.biblescanada.com/catalog/1556.htm

But much remains to be done. In November, Bill and Norma Jean were asked to assist in one of the translation review workshops in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Ruth Heeg, the translation consultant from the Bible Society facilitated the checking of the Gospel of John with Cree translators Dolores Sand and Gayle Weenie. During the three-day workshop, the first seven chapters of the Gospel of John were reviewed and revised, bringing this book that much closer to being available to Cree speakers.

plains cree review2

Norma Jean and Ruth

plains cree review1

Dolores and Gayle

During the workshop, we discussed possibilities of moving this translation forward at a faster pace. Dolores, one of the highly-qualified Cree translators expressed an interest in working on the project more regularly, and we are exploring options for paying a fair wage for her to work as a translator full-time. Please continue in prayer with us as the details are worked out, and as we seek funding sources to meet this need. Plains Cree speakers have waited many years to be able to read the Word of God in their heart language.

This series of messages describing each of the “priorities” identified in the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative began with the story of the Mason Cree Bible. If you missed that one, you can still read about it here: <link>

We encourage you to click there and view the story of the Mason Cree Bible, its part in the Initiative and our vision and involvement in this work.

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

  • 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

Northern Translation Brief: “The Bible in Plain Cree”

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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.”

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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.

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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.