Northern Translation Brief: Kingfisher Lake Translation Checking

Our Dear Partners,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Travel to Kingfisher Lake

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

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

Ruth Heeg and Meg Billingsley

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

Waiting in Sioux Lookout

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

STILL WAITING

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

Translation Checking

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

Planning the workshop

Working on the text

Ruth K, Zipporah and Jessie

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

Other Scripture Engagement Activities

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

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

Mission House Chapel

Service of consecration

Reading the scriptures

Bishop Ashdown signing the new vestry book

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

Kingfisher Lake Sunday School

Parents helping their children

Sunday School crafts

God made colourful caterpillars

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

Planning the Future

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

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

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

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

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

ISMM Diocese Website “under construction”

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

Oji-Cree Bible Translator’s Facebook Group

Wrapping up the Workshop

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

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

Ruth K, Zipporah, Jessie and Saloma

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

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

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

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean

Northern Translation Brief: Linguistics Intern Visit to Naskapi

Our Dear Partners,

After the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Gathering that was held at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan 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. One necessary part of capacity-building includes the recruitment and training of new Bible Translation facilitator teams to work alongside language speakers in their communities in the north.

unlabeled CNM mapA key part of the preparation for these Bible Translation facilitator teams is a period of in-field training and language service with the Naskapi translation project. During this time of gaining experience living in an isolated northern First Nations community, the new teams will serve the Naskapi as Linguistics Interns, taking part in the facilitation of a real ongoing language program there.

cimg8834To help the new teams with a smoother transition to their in-field training period, they accompany us on one of our working trips to the Naskapi community. In August of 2016, Martin and Alice Reed came with us to visit the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach, as their part of their introduction to the situation in Canadian First Nations, as well as a chance for us to get to know them better.

img_1587You may remember that last year at this time, Matthew and Caitlin Windsor accompanied us to Kawawachikamach on a similar visit. You can read about that trip at this link here <link>.

On this year’s trip, beginning August 21, we picked up Alice and Martin at the Buffalo, NY airport, and from there we drove for the next three days together up through southern Ontario along the north shore of the St. Lawrence in Quebec to Sept-Iles, were we boarded the train to Schefferville. The train ride this time was 16 hours, arriving at Schefferville near midnight. We arrived at the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach in the wee hours of Friday morning, August 26.

dscn1716dscn1720cimg8841

We celebrate Alice's birthday along the way

We celebrate Alice’s birthday along the way

cimg8876dscn1743Naskapi Exodus Checking

We were met there in Kawawachikamach by translation consultant Watson Williams and his wife Linda. Watson had already been there in the Naskapi community working with the Naskapi translators on the exegetical checking for the book of Exodus for the previous two weeks.

img_0261The book of Exodus: the story of Moses, the deliverance of the people of Israel from Egypt and the establishment of the covenant with God’s people is 40 chapters long and contains more than 1200 verses. It has been one of the major projects in the Naskapi translation program since the publication of the Naskapi New Testament in 2007. Naskapi translator Tshiueten Vachon completed the first draft of this book earlier this year. When Watson heard that the book needed to be checked, he volunteered to come out of “retirement” and return to the Naskapi community again to help them accomplish this check. Watson had been the main consultant who helped the Naskapi team with their New Testament checking a decade ago, and also checked the Old Testament Lectionary lessons in 2010. He works very well with the Naskapi translators, and is well-loved by the Naskapi people, and we are all very grateful that he was able to come with Linda to work with the team.

img_0011img_0010We were there with Martin and Alice to observe the last day of checking, and they were able to see first-hand Watson’s procedure of working with the translators, asking questions, verifying the accuracy of the translation, and making suggestions for improvements. On that last day, the translation team completed the checking through the end of chapter 30 of Exodus, about 73% of the book. Watson then provided the translators with a detailed series of steps that they can follow so that in the weeks to come they can finish checking the remaining 325 verses with Watson “off-site”, communicating their questions and answers by internet.

Watson with his wife Linda, and Ruby Sandy-Robinison administrator of the Naskapi Development Corporation

Watson with his wife Linda, and Ruby Sandy-Robinison administrator of the Naskapi Development Corporation

It was an excellent opportunity for Martin and Alice to see Watson at work with team.

Naskapi Literature Production

If you can read the Bible yourself, it’s because you can read. If you can read (thank a teacher!) it’s because you can and have read many, many other books in your own language. Naskapi reading and writing is now taught at the Naskapi school in the early years as the language of instruction, and while there is a growing collection of children’s books in Naskapi, it is also important to have good quality Naskapi language literature by Naskapi authors, suitable for all ages. One project we have been helping to coordinate with the Naskapi translators is the production of a book series of traditional stories and legends. cimg9096We work with the Naskapi translation team and a consultant linguist, Dr. Marguerite MacKenzie, professor emeritus from Memorial University of Newfoundland. We arrived the same week that the fourth volume in this series “The Giant Eagle and other stories” was released in the community and online, and also took part in the transcription and linguistic analysis of the next set of stories for the next volumes.

cimg9240cimg9093img_0024Again, having Martin and Alice participate in the day-to-day work by the Naskapi translators working with the consultant linguists gave them another excellent opportunity to experience another facet of language development work.

eagle-promo-card-horizThe Giant Eagle and other stories book in Naskapi also contains a literary English translation, linguistic and cultural notes, and beautiful illustrations by our daughter Elizabeth. They are now available with all the other Naskapi language materials online at this website: <link>

Language, Culture and Relationships

dscn1819Along with our work activities that Alice and Martin eagerly participated in, they also had excellent opportunities to get to know about the people and the place where God has called us to serve and begin to get accustomed to what it’s like to work in a remote northern First Nations community. We all attended Naskapi church services, a baby christening celebration, and several community cultural events that were taking place during the days we were in Kawawachikamach. Alice and Martin began to learn to speak a few Naskapi phrases, started to think about Algonquian grammatical structure, learn about gathering and processing traditional Naskapi medications, and participate in a community fishing derby.

dscn1826dscn1833cimg9079cimg9203cimg9209cimg9218The relationship-building went in both directions too, as the Naskapi welcomed them into their lives and activities, and clearly let them know that the Naskapi themselves are looking forward to the days when Alice and Martin will be able to spend a longer period of service and getting to know the people at Kawawachikamach better.

img_0067Linguistics Internships

cimg8957Some have asked if the new teams that God is sending to work with us are our “replacements”. Well, not exactly. It became clear that God is at work in many First Nations communities across Northern Canada, and that for us to simply move on to another language project after Naskapi would not nearly begin to meet the need, besides the fact that the Naskapi team still needs continued support. So in answer to your prayers God has called additional Bible Translation facilitation teams Matt and Caitlin Windsor and Alice and Martin Reed to serve in some of these other First Nations Bible Translation projects.

img_1768They are both working on building up a team of partners who will pray for and support their work through Wycliffe Bible Translators, and they are completing their final preparations to leave home to work in an isolated northern community to do this. Since the languages are all closely related, and the values and culture of these language communities share a lot in common, their planned in-field training period serving in a linguistics internship with Naskapi for several months will continue to support the Naskapi project in significimg_1771ant ways, moving the Naskapi team closer to a sustainable level of capacity, while also giving the new teams the practical skills and experience that they will need to work in the language communities that are still waiting for God’s Word in their mother tongues.

This will also enable us to leverage our own experience so that we can support these new teams as mentors, while God continues to use us to assist the other language projects where we have the privilege to serve.

dscn1700Both the Windsors and the Reeds hope to begin their Linguistics Internships with the Naskapi project sometime in 2017, and be ready to move on to another language community, such as Cree, Oji-Cree, or Innu, who even now are still waiting for the scriptures in their language.

Prayer Requests

Please continue to pray for Alice and Martin Reed, and for Matthew and Caitin Windsor, as they continue to prepare themselves and seek adequate support so that they may move to the north and begin their internships.

Pray for us that we will be sensitive to God’s leading and faithful to His call as we provide guidance to these new teams.

Pray for the First Nations language communities that we have already begun to work alongside of, and for those who are still waiting to have the message of God’s love and hope in their own languages.

Pray for the Naskapi team as they finish the book of Exodus and learn to work on their language program with more and more confidence and ability.

Thank you for your own interest, support and encouragement for this work that God is doing in minority First Nations language communities in Canada.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean

dscn1850dscn1752Consider 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-McGill Class

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

McGill Naskapi III Class

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

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

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

Norma Jean teaches about Naskapi childrens’ books

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

Bill teaches Naskapi linguistics

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz.

Little Lost Caribou

The newest edition in the Naskapi children’s book series has recently been published: “Little Lost Caribou” is a story of a little caribou as he tries to find his family. He is helped along the way by various animals that also live in Naskapi territory. A great book for children to learn through repetition. The story is by Norma Jean, with brilliant artwork by our daughter Elizabeth. The Naskapi translation was done by the translation team at the Naskapi Development Corporation. These books are published in two editions: One in “Naskapi only” (with an English translation at the end, in an appendix) and the other in a diglot, containing both the Naskapi and English text on the same page. Elizabeth and Eric have published the Naskapi and English version on their “Pocket Vinyl” publications page here: www.lulu.com/spotlight/pocketvinyl.

The Naskapi versions of the books that will be used in Naskapi homes and at Sachidun, the Naskapi Childcare Center, are available at this website: http://stores.lulu.com/naskapi, along with all the other Naskapi books that we have produced so far. Also at this website are the “Big Book” versions of these, 12″ x 12″ coffee-table sized books that are used by schoolteachers to read to an entire classroom of Naskapi children.

We are into our second week at SIL at the University of North Dakota: Norma Jean is director of childcare, Bill is taking courses toward his MA in linguistics and Jaiden is being a pre-schooler. Over 100 other students are here preparing themselves for cross-cultural language development work all over the world. Time to hit the books again.

Blessings, Bill & Norma Jean

Northern Translation Brief 07 Oct 2010

Our Dear Partners,

Thank you for your prayers for us during past critical weeks. We made good progress checking the Naskapi Old Testament lessons with our translation consultant Watson. He was able to bring us through about 800 of the 965 verses we had prepared for checking. He left his remaining questions with us so that we can finish up what remains and then he can approve the rest by e-mail.

Also, the first Naskapi/McGill Naskapi 1 course is finished: Bill trained 13 Naskapi young adults in basic Naskapi literacy, typing their language on computers, and lots and lots of reading practice. For most of these it is just the beginning of a new world of reading and writing in their mother tongue, which also opens up to them all the scripture resources that we have been working on over the years. They all applied themselves and did very well.

For the next three weeks, we will be traveling to two conferences, one on the west coast in Bellingham, Washington, where we will meet with other translators who work in North America. Then the other conference on the east coast at St. John’s Newfoundland, where we will meet with academic linguists, literacy specialists and resource persons who serve the Algonquian language family. Then we go back home to Schefferville by October 28.

We are grateful in advance for any prayers for travel mercies and safety during the next three weeks on the (rail)road, highway and in the air.

Thank you for your partnership and interest in bringing God’s word to our grateful Naskapi friends.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

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