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 09Jan2017

Our Dear Partners,

Happy New Year to you all!

Over the past year, the Wycliffe Canada Word Alive team has been interviewing, photographing, and editing the January-April 2017 edition (volume 35 number 1) of Word Alive magazine, the “…the official publication of Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada, informing, inspiring and involving the Christian public as partners in the worldwide Bible translation movement.”

Natasha Ramírez and Dwayne Janke at the MTT Workshop

Natasha Ramírez and Dwayne Janke at the MTT Workshop

Editor Dwayne Janke was on hand to interview participants and observe at the 2016 Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) Workshop that was held last April in Guelph, Ontario. Along with him to help document the action in images was staff photographer Natasha Ramírez. All the participants were encouraged by their interest in the several First Nations Bible translation projects that were represented there.

Natasha had accompanied us on our working trip to the Oji-Cree translation project last Easter, and visited the community again in September to collect more material for the magazine.

Word Alive Jan-Apr 2017 Volume 35 Number 1

Word Alive Jan-Apr 2017 Volume 35 Number 1

Print copies of the magazine are being sent to Wycliffe Canada subscribers and constituency, and we will also be making special requests for copies to be sent to partners as well. You may download a PDF version of the magazine to read right now at this link:

https://www.wycliffe.ca/wycliffe/ck_assets/admin/files/wam/wam_2017_jan-apr.pdf

You may also view the web version of that issue, especially designed for viewing on your computer or handheld:

http://wordalive.wycliffe.ca/stories/a-cree-initiative

It also has a lot more content than the print version, including additional photographs and videos. We hope that you have a moment to check it out.

Thank you for your prayers for us as we respond to God’s enabling to help build the capacity of First Nations translators to meet their communities’ needs that they have expressed to us regarding Bible translation in their own languages.

Please remember these First Nations translators who are already engaged in their own projects (or are hoping to be soon):

Oji-Cree: (Kingfisher Lake) Zipporah, Ruth M, Ruth K, Theresa, Jessie, and Dominick

Naskapi: (Kawawachikamach) Silas, Tshiueten, Amanda and Kissandra

Plains Cree: Dolores and Gayle

Woods Cree: Adam and Sam

And pray with us for those other communities and individuals that God will use to bring His Word into other First Nations languages that have been waiting long enough.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-12-37-11-pm

Northern Translation Brief: “The Next Generation”

Our Dear Partners,

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

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


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


Is there a linguist in the house?RecruitingPosterpicture

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

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

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

Matthew and Caitlin Windsor

Cait & Matt Windsor

Cait & Matt Windsor

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

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

Cait&Hazel

Hazel Windsor

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

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

Martin and Alice Reed

Martin and Alice

Martin & Alice Reed

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

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

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

Linguistics Internships

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

KawawaFall2012

Kawawachikamach

IMG_8002

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.

2016 MTT 013

Myles Leitch, Canadian Bible Society

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Kempf

Steve Kempf, SIL International consultant

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

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

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

_5EB2170Guests, Connections and Staff

2016 MTT 016

Natasha and Dwayne, Word Alive magazine

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

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

Jeff Green and Paul Arsenault (CanIL, Tyndale)

Jeff Green and Paul Arsenault, CanIL / Tyndale

Barb Penner and Tomas Ortiz, Canadian Bible Society

Barb Penner and Tomas Ortiz, Canadian Bible Society

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

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

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

Ruth Heeg, Canadian Bible Society translation consultant

Ruth Heeg, Canadian Bible Society translation consultant

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

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

Participant Evaluations

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

What was something new that you learned during this workshop?

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

What did you particularly like about this workshop?

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

What were the best aspects of the workshop?

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

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

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean

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

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

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

 

 

Northern Translation Brief 28Jan2016

Our Dear Partners,

It has been good to settle into a routine of work and support for the translation projects since having our grandchildren with us for an extended visit over the holidays. Norma Jean is on the home stretch for her grad program assignments, and the translators in northern Quebec (Naskapi) northern Ontario (Oji-Cree) and  Saskatchewan (Plains Cree) are all back to work on their translation projects after the holidays. In fact, the Oji-Cree translators took advantage of their holiday “break” to get even more done on their Bible translation goals, and that was a real encouragement to us and to the other teams.

This is a picture of the report we see when progress is made on any of the Bible Translation projects and we support

This is a picture of the report we see when progress is made on any of the Bible Translation projects that we work with. You can see every member of the Oji-Cree team worked on their translation; on Matthew, Romans, Luke, John and 2 Corinthians, all during the week between Christmas and New Years! What an encouragement to us.

Naskapi

The big news for Naskapi is that Tshiueten has just finished the final verse on the first draft of the book of Exodus. This has been an active Naskapi project for several years, and over the past three years, Tshiueten has been the main translator. Now of course there is a lot of checking and review to do before it is approved for publication, but this is a tremendous milestone and he is to be congratulated.

Tshiueten Vachon, Naskapi translator working on Exodus

Tshiueten Vachon, Naskapi translator working on Exodus

Oji-Cree

The team is working very steadily on the Sunday “Epistle” and “Gospel” readings for the church in Kingfisher Lake. The translators, many of whom are also church lay-readers, report that the community has enjoyed hearing these church readings in the new translation, and some have also been looking closer at the old (Mason) Cree translation, giving God’s Word a closer look than they had previously.

Pictures of the Oji-Cree translation team that they took themselves and posted on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ismm2014/posts/1257611154281381

Pictures of the Oji-Cree translation team that they took themselves and posted on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ismm2014/posts/1257611154281381

Plains Cree

Gayle and Dolores have been making good progress on the checking and review of the New Testament, completing the back-translation through the book of Acts, and working with the Bible Society translation consultant Ruth nearly every day by Internet and Skype. Bill and Ruth have also been making progress editing the hours of recorded audio of the book of Luke in Plains Cree.

Dolores and Gayle working on Plains Cree checking and review

Dolores and Gayle working on Plains Cree checking and review

Legacy (Mason 1862) Cree Bible

This old translation is still in use and highly regarded in many northern communities and churches, even if it is not the way people speak today. The Bible Society will be producing an updated reprint and make it accessible electronically. The Plains Cree team, along with Ruth, the translation consultant, are also making steady progress toward that goal.

Old Cree Bible at St. Matthew's Church, Kingfisher Lake, ON

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

Day by day we work with the teams on these projects from our desks here at our new “old” house in Windham Centre, Ontario. We are grateful to be a part of God’s plan to bring his message to the First Nations communities across northern Canada.

Norma Jean working on her research paper

Norma Jean working on her research paper

Bill listening to and editing the Gospel of Luke audio in Plains Cree

Bill listening to and editing the Gospel of Luke audio in Plains Cree

Prayer Requests:

As we rejoice over the completion of the Naskapi Exodus first draft, please join us in prayer as we try to connect with just the right translation consultant who will work with  Tshiueten and the team for quality assurance and accuracy.

Pray with us for the Oji-Cree team and the Kingfisher Lake church as many of them will hear these messages in their own language for the first time. Remember Ruth K, Ruth M, Theresa, Jessie and Zipporah.

Remember Gayle and Dolores, the Plains Cree team, working with Ruth, their translation consultant on both the book of Acts in the new Plains Cree translation, and the preparation and review of the old Legacy Cree Bible.

Keep us (Bill and Norma Jean) in prayer as we begin to set up our calendar for our working trips into the communities up north in the months to come, for our interactions with other missions and resource partners for these projects, and that we would stay centered on God’s word in our own lives.

And one more special prayer request: Our son, Nicodemus John, is attending Trinity Western University in Langley British Columbia. He is preparing to spend his Spring Break on a missions trip with dozens of other students from TWU, working on a “Habitat for Humanity” building project. He is in need of funds to support his participation in this missions trip.

You can read about the trip here: http://twu.ca/life/ministries/gps/sprinNick at school 2015g-trips/

He needs to raise nearly $2400 to go on this missions trip, and he just told us this week that he sold his car to a junkyard to help him with some of the costs (he got $140.00 for his car)! If you feel that God would have you support Nicodemus to go on this missions trip, you can get a tax-deductible receipt for your gift if you write your donations payable to “Trinity Western University”, and mail them to:

Allan Kotanen
Student Life Director
Trinity Western University
7600 Glover Road
Langley, BC V2Y 1Y1 CANADA

Be sure to include a note saying it is for:
Nicodemus Jancewicz
Spring Break Missions

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz

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 26May2015

Our Dear Partners,

By the time you are reading this we will have disconnected and turned in our home Internet box to the service provider, along with our land-line telephone, as we prepare to finish cleaning and packing to leave our little rented cottage in Aldergrove, BC. We have made this our home for the past two years as Norma Jean worked on courses for her graduate program at Trinity Western University.

cottage-card-600-colourWe are starting our drive across the continent on Friday, May 29, towing a rented trailer containing some of our belongings that we acquired during our two years here–at least those items that remain after giving a lot away to others.

Moving to Ontario screenAlong the way we will be attending the NAIITS (North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies) Symposium at Wheaton College, in Illinois on June 4-6, where we are connecting with some old friends and networking with new partners in our First Nations Bible Translation work.

Screen shot 2015-05-26 at 2.43.55 PMThen we continue on towards the greater Toronto area where we will continue to look for a new place to call “home”. Why southern Ontario? Mainly because this puts us in a region that makes it convenient to travel to the First Nations communities that we are connecting with to assist with language development that will help them gain better access to the Scriptures in their mother tongues. Also, some of our significant partner organizations, such as the Bible Society, educational institutions and the First Nations church have their headquarters in this region as well.

Home to First Nations MapBut so far, we do not yet have a mailing address in Ontario. And, as of this Thursday we will no longer get mail at 25133 0 Avenue in Aldergrove, BC, so please cross that address off your address book. You can also cross out our old home phone number (604) 381-4440 too, because that won’t work either. You can still follow Norma Jean on Facebook, and news will still be posted here on this website–and our email addresses are still remain the best way to stay in touch with us. We did get an android-based “smart” phone, and if you email Norma Jean she might give you the number so that you can send us a text (and we will try to remember to keep the phone charged up so that we can answer you!)

Bill’s email: bill_jancewicz@sil.org

Norma Jean’s email: normajean_jancewicz@sil.org

We plan to drop off our belongings in a storage facility in the Kitchener, Ontario area in June, and continue our search for a new home somewhere around there, and as soon as we know where that is, we will let you know.

Later on in June we plan to visit family, friends, and supporting churches in New England and parts of the northeastern United States while we continue looking for the house that God has for us.

During the second half of the summer we will be going back to northern Ontario and northern Quebec to continue to support the First Nations Bible Translation projects there in the Oji-Cree and Naskapi languages.

We are grateful for your prayers for God’s continued guidance and safety as we follow Him into this new phase of His work in our lives and in the lives and languages of the First Nations people of Canada.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean

Partner with us in prayer or sharing in our financial support by visiting these websites: http://bill.jancewicz.com/ (personal)
In Canada: http://www.wycliffe.ca/m?Jancewicz
In USA: https://www.wycliffe.org/partner/Jancewicz

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