How learning a First Nations language helps these 3 people connect with culture, family, community

Likelihood Paupanekis credit a lot of his well-being to studying his conventional language.

Paupanekis, who’s from the Norway Home Cree Nation in northern Manitoba, is finding out Ininimowin — a Cree language that has 5 main dialects, according to Indigenous Languages of Manitoba.

Language is extra than simply phrases in his tradition, says Paupanekis — one in every of three individuals finding out First Nations languages CBC talked with throughout Nationwide Indigenous Historical past Month concerning the significance of that studying.

“What we’re informed within the ceremonies is that it was gifted to us from the spirit world … and due to this fact it is a religious language,” he stated. 

“The religious teachings are embedded within the language.”

When he went to his first sweat lodge ceremony, known as matotisan, he did not perceive any of the songs or teachings.

“I felt like I wasn’t getting 100 per cent of the expertise that I used to be speculated to be getting,” he stated. “I felt extraordinarily disconnected.”

He is becoming a member of a rising variety of individuals studying an Indigenous language.

In response to Statistics Canada, the general variety of Indigenous individuals who might communicate an Indigenous language together with Inuktitut and Michif — grew by 3.1 per cent during the decade from 2006 to 2016. At that time, there have been twice as many Indigenous kids who might communicate an Indigenous language than seniors.

Paupanekis realized he needed to embrace the ceremonies of his tradition, which additionally maintain many conventional teachings he needed to be taught. He started studying the language so he might perceive the phrases that have been spoken, however that was solely a part of the expertise he was eager for.

Paupanekis has been sober for 2 and a half years, which he stated is due to the ceremonies.

“It is most well-liked that after we go to our ceremonies, that we go to them with an open thoughts and we’re not intaking substances that may alter our way of thinking. I give up ingesting and I left that a part of me prior to now,” he stated.

“I started a unique journey of relearning my tradition, relearning my language and my ceremonies.”

‘The sound of [my mother’s] voice’

When Amanda Fredlund got here to Winnipeg from Behchokǫ̀ within the Northwest Territories, she introduced her language, Tłı̨chǫ, together with her. 

She’s working laborious to develop into fluent in Tłı̨chǫ — a language from the Dene household that is often known as Dogrib — however admits it is a troublesome course of for a lot of causes.

She was uncovered to the language as a toddler by way of her mom, who was studying Tłı̨chǫ herself. However her mom died in 2013, and Fredlund was by no means capable of be taught the language from her. 

She’s presently taking on-line lessons and making an attempt to talk it as a lot as she will. Listening to the language from native audio system in her lessons brings her each completely satisfied and painful reminiscences.

“I used to be very aware of the sound of [my mother’s] voice — the way in which she pronounces phrases, her Dene accent,” stated Fredlund. 

“Once I’m sitting in some programs and I am listening to these lovely language audio system, it is a very robust reminder of these reminiscences I’ve [of her].”

Amanda Fredlund, initially from Behchokǫ̀ within the Northwest Territories, is finding out Tłı̨chǫ, a language from the Dene household. (Rudy Gauer/CBC)

Fredlund stated there are occasions she’s unable to get by way of her lessons as a result of she’s nonetheless grieving the lack of her mom. However her grief can be what evokes her to continue learning.

She additionally finds consolation in with the ability to honour her mom by way of her language studying, in addition to different robust ladies in her household that got here earlier than her.

“[My mother] is within the spirit world. She’s someplace I hope to be at some point. When I’m fluent in my language, when I understand how to talk and have these conversations, I sit up for sitting together with her and talking [in Tłı̨chǫ].”

Reclaiming Anishinaabemowin

Language is an enormous a part of Sienna Gould’s life. Two generations of her household — her grandparents and her dad and mom — had their language hidden from them. Now, she’s reclaiming it for her household and her neighborhood, Pinaymootang First Nation, in Manitoba’s Interlake.

“We did not have the tradition, [but] we had the language. And I really feel like that saved us linked,” she stated.

She sings and speaks to her two-year-old son, Sulvie, in Anishinaabemowin, or Ojibway. She’s studying it herself, typically one phrase at a time, however she sees her efforts having an enormous impact on the younger kids each in her household and her neighborhood.

The children in the neighborhood wish to be taught the language, she stated. They ask her questions and attempt to use the phrases they know of their conversations.

“Small phrases like that go an enormous approach. While you simply carry on it, it should finally resonate with them.”

Sienna Gould, whose conventional title is Kiigamashidmiigizhiiikwe, needs to be an Anishinaabemowin trainer. She sees the constructive impacts of studying languages from a younger age together with her nieces and nephews. (Rudy Gauer/CBC)

Gould stated rising up, she felt like she missed out on studying about her language and her tradition. However the younger individuals within the subsequent era of her neighborhood are not rising up the identical approach, and she or he’s getting herself prepared to assist them.

“I am finding out for educating Indigenous languages, Anishinaabemowin and Ininimowin, and my objective is to have the ability to revitalize the language for our future generations to come back,” Gould stated.

Paupanekis additionally stated he has develop into a language advocate. Ininimowin has develop into a strong a part of his spirituality, he stated.

“Once I began studying the teachings, I started to grasp my spirituality, my spirit, and how my spirit connects to every thing and everybody. All the things is interconnected,” he stated.

“It gave me my spirit again. It woke my spirit up.”

Sienna Gould teaches Anishinaabemowin

Sienna Gould shares how you can say hiya and goodbye in her language.

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