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: Fall 2016 Partnership Tour

Our Dear Partners,

“Bible Translation is the mission of the whole church”. This is not a new idea–it was stated as a principle in 2008 by Kirk Franklin, the former executive director of Wycliffe Bible Translators International (now Wycliffe Global Alliance).

http://www.lausanneworldpulse.com/perspectives-php/921/04-2008

As many of you know, God has been at work in the hearts and communities of First Nations communities in Canada, and we have been privileged to be involved with several language communities who are translating the Bible into their own mother tongues. First Nations speakers of their own indigenous languages are engaged in translating the Bible for their own communities, in Cree, Oji-Cree and Naskapi.

http://bill.jancewicz.com/2016/05/10/northern-translation-brief-2016-mother-tongue-translator-mtt-workshop/

Several “majority-language-speaking” (that’s English) churches and many individuals across Canada and the USA have partnered with us since we first set out in 1987. Many of you who read this blog have shared in our work since then.

By means of messages like this one, you have been invited to connect with us in your thoughts and prayers, and also with and for the First Nations language speakers who we serve. Sometimes we also travel to visit many ministry partners in person. This November we are about to set off on another trip to do that, making stops and appointments in:

  • Preston, Connecticut (Nov 4-5) two home visits
  • Sutton, Vermont (Sunday, Nov 6) church visit-Sutton Freewill Baptist Church
  • Bozrah, Connecticut (Monday-Tuesday, Nov 7-8) two home visits
  • Norwich, Connecticut (Wednesday, Nov 9) men’s morning prayer, Norwich Alliance Church
  • Derry, New Hampshire (Wednesday evening, Nov 9) church visit-Central Congregational Church
  • Waterford, Connecticut (Thursday evening, Nov 10) church visit-First Baptist Church of Waterford
  • Wynnewood, Pennsylvania (Sunday, Nov 13) church visit-All Saints Church
  • Baltimore, Maryland (Sunday evening, Nov 13) home visit
  • La Plata, Maryland (Monday evening, Nov 14) home visit
  • Clayton, North Carolina (Tuesday evening, Nov 15) home visit
  • Bluffton, South Carolina (Wednesday-Friday, Nov 16-18) campsite visit
  • Clearwater, Florida (Saturday-Tuesday, Nov 19-21) home visit
  • Chattsworth, Georgia (Wednesday-Friday, Nov 22-25) home visit
  • Westerville, Ohio (Saturday evening, Nov 26) home visit

fall-2016-trip2We will be on the road from Thursday, November 3 until nearly the end of the month, and we desire your prayers for safety, guidance and provision–and also for God’s leading as we meet with and minister to many of you who have stood with us in this work.

A good way to contact us this month (and all the time) is my email: bill_jancewicz@sil.org

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

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

dscn2150dscn2149dscn2142dscn2139dscn2160dscn2163

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: “Cuthand” Plains Cree Translation

Our Dear Partners,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

plains cree review2

Norma Jean and Ruth

plains cree review1

Dolores and Gayle

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

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

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

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

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

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Northern Translation Brief: First Nations in Canada

Our Dear Partners,

As you are all aware, the Naskapi Bible translation project is just one of dozens of languages across Canada still spoken by First Nations people. Some are so closely related to Naskapi that we understand them and they understand us very well–such as the Mushuau Innu in Natuashish, Labrador or the Northern East Cree at Whapmagoostui on Hudson Bay. Still, there are many other communities across the north part of Canada clear west over to the Rocky Mountains where there are people who speak related dialects that are like each other but less and less like Naskapi.

Some of these languages have had a long history of Bible translation work in them, like Plains Cree, Moose Cree, Montagnais, Atikamekw, Algonquin, and Southern East Cree, with translated New Testaments or whole Bibles in those languages.

Some of these languages have work going on by our contemporaries and colleagues even now, and people who have waited for many years are just hearing the gospel in their own mother tongue for the first time.

Yet still some speakers of these languages are still waiting for translations in their own mother tongue.

C-N-M Communities mapThis week, we have an opportunity to meet and discover how God is at work in many of these communities across Canada, and how we might be used to help all of the First Nations language speakers in Canada to have adequate access to God’s Word. Representatives from the Canadian Bible Society, our own field director, and other interested parties will be meeting together with us all day on Thursday at CanIL (the Canadian Institute of Linguistics) here in British Columbia to:

  • Pray together
  • Share how God has been at work in the existing projects we have all been involved in
  • Look at the big picture of how God is at work in all the other language communities in Canada
  • Discuss how we may be used by God in our partnerships together with the Bible Society, SIL/Wycliffe, and the First Nations communities that are still waiting for God’s word in their mother tongue, and continue to help the Naskapi with their goals

On Friday, Bill and Norma Jean will be meeting with our field director to pray and discuss our ways we can work to best meet the language development needs of many communities including and beyond Naskapi.

On that same day, Bill and Norma Jean will be celebrating the work that God has done in the Naskapi project with a presentation to the entire staff and student body at CanIL, and challenging them to consider how they might be involved in the work that remains in Canada in the future.

Later that day, we will join our field director meeting with some of the linguistics students who have expressed an interest in First Nations language work in Canada. Maybe God will use some of them to join us in the work.

You can pray with us,

  • that we will be sensitive to God’s Holy Spirit as we meet together this week,
  • that God will continue to work in the hearts of First Nations communities who we would partner with to do translation work,
  • that God would open our eyes so that we can see where the fields are ripe,
  • that He might send more workers into His harvest field here among the First Nations languages of Canada that are still waiting to hear the Good News in their heart language.

Serving with you,
Bill and Norma Jean