Northern Translation Brief 05Oct2016

Our Dear Partners,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings, Bill and Norma Jean

Fall moose hunting harvest, Kingfisher Lake 2016

Fall moose hunting harvest, Kingfisher Lake 2016

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Northern Translation Brief: “The Next Generation”

Our Dear Partners,

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

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


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


Is there a linguist in the house?RecruitingPosterpicture

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

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

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

Matthew and Caitlin Windsor

Cait & Matt Windsor

Cait & Matt Windsor

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

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

Cait&Hazel

Hazel Windsor

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

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

Martin and Alice Reed

Martin and Alice

Martin & Alice Reed

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

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

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

Linguistics Internships

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

KawawaFall2012

Kawawachikamach

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

 

Northern Translation Brief 04Apr2016

Our Dear Partners,

Kabimbetas Noah Mokoush

Kabimbetas Noah Mokoush

Two months ago, we sent out a Translation Brief asking you to remember to pray for Kabimbetas Noah Mokoush, a Naskapi translator who wanted a second chance to work on Old Testament translation.

You can click and read that Brief here:

Northern Translation Brief 10Feb2016

We would like to thank you for your prayers for him and to bring you up-to-date with this Brief. For the past 9 weeks, Kabimbetas Noah has continued to work on the first draft of the translation of the Old Testament book of First Kings in Naskapi, and has consistently submitted his work to me for review each Friday as he agreed. You may remember that he currently lives outside the Naskapi community. He lives with his girlfriend Tara’s family in Timmins Ontario, so he does not have the benefit of working with the rest of the Naskapi translators in Kawawachikamach Quebec around him. They can read and comment on his translation after it has been submitted for review, but it is still a challenge to work on translation this way.

Timmins and KawawaOver the past 9 weeks, he only missed one Friday (Good Friday) turning in his work for review. He often gets 40 verses or more done in a week, but on 19 March he turned in 62 verses and last Friday he turned in 70 verses, his best week so far. He is currently working on First Kings chapter 12, the story of Rehoboam and Jeroboam.

We mentioned in the 10 February 2016 Translation Brief that Kabimbetas Noah was one of the original “Fantastic Four”, the new young translators that were hired and trained to work together at the Naskapi Development Corporation in 2013.

The Fantastic Four: Northern Translation Brief 20April2013

We’d like to share a little bit more about this bright young man. His father, George Guanish, was one of the first translators to work with us on the contemporary Naskapi Bible translation project back in the 1990s.

George Guanish in 1993

George Guanish in 1993

George worked with us to translate the first scripture in Naskapi, portions of the Life of Christ called the “Walking With Jesus” series. We were just with his father George during meetings between the Quebec government ministers and First Nations leadership in March.

George Guanish, Bill, and Sandy Shecanapish at Quebec City in March 2016

George Guanish, Bill, Sandy Shecanapish at Quebec City March 2016

George’s father, Joseph Guanish, was the long-time chief of the Naskapi community when we first moved to Kawawachikamach in 1988. It was Joseph’s vision for Bible Translation and language development work for the Naskapi that resulted in our invitation to live in the community and to work with the Naskapi Development Corporation (NDC), to help them establish their translation and linguistics services department. Joseph served as the president of the NDC for many years, and his son George has also served as president of NDC and is currently on the board of directors.

Joseph Guanish at the Naskapi Development Corporation

Joseph Guanish at the Naskapi Development Corporation

Kabimbetas Noah has a strong heritage. His Naskapi name comes from the word /pimipiyitaaw/ ᐱᒥᐱᔨᑕᐤ ‘he runs’. This verb derives to a noun, /kaa-pimipiyitaast/ ᑲᐱᒥᐱᔨᑕᔅᑦ (Kabimbetas) which then means ‘little runner’.

We are all so grateful that you are cheering him on in prayer as he runs the race set before him, in the footsteps of his father George and grandfather Joseph.

Translating the Bible is hard work even in the best of conditions. Please continue to remember to pray for Kabimbetas Noah as he continues to overcome the challenges that face him, and that the Word of God in his own language will continue to speak to his own heart and the hearts of his family and his people in Kawawachikamach.

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

Connecting with Kabimbetas by Skype

Northern Translation Brief 21Mar2016

Our Dear Partners,

We are invited back to Kingfisher Lake this week to continue to work along side the new Oji-Cree Bible Translation team with their projects. We fly from the Toronto airport to Thunder Bay on Monday, 21 March and then on Tuesday we continue on through Sioux Lookout to Kingfisher Lake.

Windham to KingfisherWe will be joined this time by a photographer with Wycliffe Canada who hopes to gather information, stories and photographs from the translation team to share about their translation project and the influence that it is already having on their church and community. She will be with us for the first three days.

We will be helping them learn to bring their translation work through the various stages IMG_2329that are necessary to ensure that their work is clear and accurate, natural and acceptable. You may remember that one of the first projects that their committee has chosen is to translate the prayer book lectionary readings for the local church in the community–the Epistles and Gospels for each Sunday in a one year cycle beginning last Advent. They have been diligent in producing these each week and many of the readings in church have been read by members of the translation team themselves.

It is also our privilege to have been invited to spend Holy Week and Easter to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord with them in their church and community. We are looking forward to our fellowship with them and for how God will use us to help them have even better access to His word in their own language.

Please pray for our provision and protection as we travel, and for our sensitivity to God’s leading and the ways and language of these people. To pray for the translation team by name, please visit this earlier post about their project, which lists their names and their pictures.

Northern Translation Brief 27Jul2015

Lord willing, we will be back home in Windham Centre, Ontario at the end of the month.

Thank you for your prayers about our meetings with First Nations church leaders and representatives from Bible Translation agencies that we attended in Toronto earlier this month. God has been at work and was present in those meetings too. We encourage you to write to us and ask if you want to know some of the specifics about how He is leading us and what we learned from those meetings, or anything else you want to hear more from us about.

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

Bill’s email: bill_jancewicz@sil.org

Norma Jean’s email: normajean_jancewicz@sil.org

 

Northern Translation Brief 14Aug2015

Our Dear Partners,

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

First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Initiative

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

Matt & Cait Windsor

Matt & Cait Windsor

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

Matthew and Caitlin

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

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

Naskapi Language Specialists at work

Naskapi Language Specialists at work

Naskapi Language educators' workshop

Naskapi Language educators’ workshop

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

Hard News and Grief

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

Norma Jean with Sylvester Tooma, 2014

Norma Jean with Sylvester Tooma, 2014

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

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

Bill & Norma Jean, Elizabeth, Cait & Matt

Bill & Norma Jean, Elizabeth, Cait & Matt

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

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

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

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Northern Translation Brief 27Jul2015

Our Dear Partners,

Thank you for your prayers for us this week. We have been running a mini-workshop for the new Oji-Cree translation team in the “fly-in” community of Kingfisher Lake since last Tuesday.

Boarding Pass in Canadian Syllabics

Boarding Pass in Canadian Syllabics

On the plane to Kingfisher Lake

On the plane to Kingfisher Lake

Kingfisher Lake Bible Translation Team

Last year, Jessie, Ruth K, Ruth M, Theresa, and Zipporah were recruited and selected by their local Bible Translation committee, composed of community elders and church leaders.

Jessie

Jessie

Ruth K.

Ruth K.

Ruth M.

Ruth M.

Theresa

Theresa

Zipporah

Zipporah

We were invited here by the committee last January to begin their formation and training. Then they all attended the 2015 Mother Tongue Translator Workshop in Guelph in April, and we are back here now to help the team to build on the skills and momentum that they gained at the workshop in Guelph.

you can read about the workshop here: <click>

We also came to listen to the committee to help them with their planning to achieve their vision for their community. Bishop Lydia Mamakwa reminded us and the committee that her diocese was led to undertake this local Bible translation initiative into Oji-Cree as one of their first projects.

The committee decided that in order to have the most immediate local engagement with the newly-translation Scripture portions in Oji-Cree, that they would focus on the shorter, one-year “Prayer Book Lectionary” of Sunday Bible readings that are read each week at St. Matthew’s Church in Kingfisher Lake. So, besides practicing and developing their Bible translation and Oji-Cree word processing skills, the team has also begun to follow a program of translating specific Bible readings that will be read in their church each week, with a goal of completing over 1600 New Testament verses over the next year.

Translation workshop at Mission House

Translation workshop at Mission House

Translation Committee meeting at Mission House

Translation Committee meeting at Mission House

We continue our training and practice with the team into this coming week and after this we head back to southern Ontario and continue our search for a “home” base on July 30.

Our time here has been very encouraging: our friends at Mission House and the Kingfisher Lake community have shown us their usual kindness and hospitality.

Kingfisher Lake sewing group

Kingfisher Lake sewing group

This weekend we enjoyed fellowship and worship with them at their church and went to see the closing of their summer fishing derby, and even took home fresh fish for our supper. God is good.

Anglers returning from the fishing derby

Anglers returning from the fishing derby

Kingfisher Lake fishing derby

Kingfisher Lake fishing derby

Recording the weight of each fish

Recording the weight of each fish

...and the length

…and the length

"Would you like to take some fish? They're fresh!"

“Would you like to take some fish? They’re fresh!”

Walleye for supper tonight

Walleye for supper tonight

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Northern Translation Brief: Mushuau Innu Language Project

Our Dear Partners,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contrasting Naskapi and Mushuau Innu

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

St. John's Anglican Church, Kawawachikamach

St. John’s Anglican Church, Kawawachikamach

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

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

St. Anne Tshukuminu Catholic Church, Natuashish

St. Anne Tshukuminu Catholic Church, Natuashish

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

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

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

Classroom Assistant Workshops

September 2011 visit to Natuashish

September 2011 visit to Natuashish

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

September 2013 visit to Natuashish

September 2013 visit to Natuashish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mason Cree Bible

(Cuthand) Plains Cree Translation

Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree Translation

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

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

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

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

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

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Northern Translation Brief: Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree

Our Dear Partners,

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

Oji-Cree narrowThis time, we are telling about the (Kingfisher Lake) Oji-Cree Bible Translation project. Oji-Cree is a language spoken in northern Ontario, inland in the Severn and Winisk River basins. In Oji-Cree, the language is called ᐊᓂᐦᔑᓂᓃᒧᐏᐣ Anihshininiimowin.

We have just returned from a two-week visit to the Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree community. We first visited the community for a few days in September 2014, when they decided to form their own Bible Translation committee. They asked us to return to help them with setting it up and doing initial training with the individuals that they would choose to work on their translation.

Oji-Cree Bible Translation Committee

Oji-Cree Bible Translation Committee

In the months between that visit and this one, their committee identified and recruited several persons willing to serve as their Oji-Cree translation team. Their team is guided and supervised by their Bible Translation committee, which consists of elders, local church leaders, and interested community members. We attended a committee meeting at the beginning of our two weeks there, when they expressed their commitment and desire to begin the work, which is sponsored by the Kingfisher Lake First Nation council, St. Matthew’s Anglican Church vestry, and the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh.

IMG_8869IMG_8811IMG_8816Each day of our time in the community, we conducted training workshops for the mother-tongue translators, which included securing (sometimes borrowing!) laptop computers, setting up the syllabics font and keyboarding program, and providing training and practice in using the Oji-Cree syllabic writing system on the computers. For most of the translator trainees, this was their first experience using their own language on computers.

IMG_8860Thanks to the timely generosity of the managing editor of the soon-to-be-released ᑭᑎᓯᑭᓯᐍᐏᓂᓇᐣ Anihshininiimowin Oji-Cree Dictionary, we received digital copies of this incredibly useful book, along with its introductory materials, and part of the training course was devoted to the use of the dictionary and looking up words. The team is so grateful to have this resource!

Cover Page-aFinally, we began to teach translation for beginners and the new trainees practiced by translating, reviewing and back-translating John chapter 2, “Jesus changes water to wine”.

Mission House, a facility of St. Matthew’s Church in Kingfisher Lake, is not only the headquarters of the Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh and Bishop Lydia Mamakwa’s office, but is also the repository of the collected writings of the venerable Dr. William Winter. William Winter

 

William Winter (1921-2011) was a visionary Oji-Cree church leader who devoted his life to pursuing the dream of a self-determining, self-sustaining Indigenous church within the Anglican Church of Canada, which has been carried by the elders for over six decades. Under his leadership First Nations Christians chose to move carefully and prayerfully along the journey to make that dream a reality. William Winter was also a prolific writer and a student of the Bible.

 

IMG_8892IMG_8894His writings include sermons and Bible study materials, as well as historic documents and journals, written in the Oji-Cree language over the course of several decades. Some of his writings are being used as teaching materials for the translation trainees.

IMG_8829IMG_8821IMG_8827We were invited to describe the project on their local radio broadcast, and we also began to learn some Oji-Cree words and phrases ourselves. We visited the school and met with the Oji-Cree language teachers there, and at the end of our time we enjoyed a feast of moose meat stew and bannock, and expressed our thanks to our hosts in the community.

IMG_8877IMG_8883Finally we attended another meeting of the Bible Translation committee, during which time they discussed the scope of the project and what the next steps should be. They would like to work on the Scripture readings used in Sunday services (the Lectionary) first, using these to build up their inventory of God’s Word in their own language for later Scripture publications. They are also interested in translating their prayer book services into their local dialect as well, along with other projects, including the transcription and translation of the writings of the late Dr. William Winter for the Oji-Cree community and beyond.

IMG_8762We are optimistic and enthusiastic about their strong desire to take action to bring God’s Word to their own people in their language. The committee is eager to send at least five of their translation trainees to the First Nations Mother Tongue Translator (MTT) workshop that is being planned for the middle of April in Guelph, Ontario. There will be more news about that coming event in a future Translation Brief.

IMG_8721We are so grateful for the privilege of being a part of this work God is beginning to do in Kingfisher Lake. Please remember to pray for their committee and their translation trainees during the coming days and weeks as they move forward. Thank you so much for your prayers for us as we traveled all those miles and days to spend this time with them.

We are happy, but oh so tired! Pray for us for a refreshing week back in British Columbia.

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

Mason Cree Bible

(Cuthand) Plains Cree Translation

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

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

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

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

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Northern Translation Brief: “The Bible in Plain Cree”

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Mason Cree Bible

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

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

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

James Evans Teaching Syllabics

James Evans Teaching Syllabics

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

Rev William Mason

William Mason

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mason Cree Bible annotated in Oji-Cree

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

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

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

Leviticus Chapter 5 at verse 11

Leviticus Chapter 5 at verse 11

Mason Cree digital version @ Leviticus 5:11

Mason Cree digital version @ Leviticus 5:11

Print version compared with digital version

Print version compared with digital version

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

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

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

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

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

References:

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

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

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

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

Northern Translation Brief 23Sep2014

Our Dear Partners,

It’s snowing! Where? Here in Kawawachikamach where we have been for the past week for Scripture engagement and literacy workshops with our Naskapi translation partners. IMG_8008We have enjoyed beautiful fall days but on the last day we our flight was canceled and we were delayed by an early blizzard, so we simply stayed put and worked an extra day here.

IMG_8014Naskapi teachers literacy workshop

We team-taught several sessions for the Naskapi language teachers at the school, helping them with literacy, materials, and grammar-teaching skills.

 

 

Naskapi grammar and translation

IMG_8002Bill worked with the translation staff at the Naskapi Development Corporation and consultant linguist Marguerite MacKenzie on Naskapi stories and legends for publication, and a better understanding of Naskapi grammar.

 

 

Womens’ sewing circle

IMG_8073During several evenings, Norma Jean led a women’s sewing class, and several women completed quilt projects and enjoyed fellowship and tea. Norma Jean also had an opportunity to model leading a women’s Bible study session for some of the local women.

We thank God for another opportunity to enjoy the friendship and hospitality of our Naskapi friends at Kawawachikamach and to encourage them in their faith and ongoing language development and translation work.

IMG_8038Starting today, Lord willing, we begin a tour of the Eastern United States to visit several supporting churches, friends and family. Hope to see many of you in the coming days.

Thank you for your prayers.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz