Prince’s Charities Canada and First Nations University of Canada launch Indigenous language children’s books in Cree

March 17, 2017

SASKATCHEWAN – Prince’s Charities Canada has launched our newest Indigenous language children’s books in Saskatchewan. The books, written by SayITFirst Inc and translated and edited by First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) faculty and alumni, are part of our Cree Language Program, which aims to revitalize Cree languages through the fostering of a younger generation of speakers.

To reach the broad cross-section of the Indigenous population in Saskatchewan, five books were written in the Cree dialects of Swampy, Woods and Plain. The books are targeted at 4 to 8 year olds (when second language acquisition is at its peak) and focus on pertinent childhood development topics that offer key lessons to both adults and children. Accessible to both native and non-native Cree speakers, the books feature the phonetic pronunciation of the Cree words as well as their English translation. The audiovisual component, administered through the Aursama app, will include a reading of the book by a native language speaker, to further ensure proper pronunciation.

“By including the phonetics, English and audio video components, we can ensure that non-fluent Cree speakers, specifically parents and guardians, can read the books along with their children”, said Jessica Bentley-Jacobs, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Prince’s Charities Canada.

The books are being distributed within schools and communities by FNUniv students in the Language Instruction Certificate and Indigenous Education degree programs. Children can then bring the books home to share with family to further support language acquisition. The books will also be distributed to local school and community libraries and to schools across Canada via One Laptop Per Child Canada.

“The wonderful thing about books is that they can be shared”, said Matthew Rowe, Director of Operations and Partnerships at Prince’s Charities Canada. “Children are taking these resources home to their siblings, parents and grandparents, spreading the impact even further.”

Dr. Lynn Wells, Vice-President Academic at First Nations University, notes that the partnership between FNUniv and the Prince’s Charities Canada is supporting the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. “As Canada’s only fully Indigenous university-level institution, FNUniv is proud to play a role in the work of healing and cultural revitalization called for by the TRC. By putting these books into the hands of students, their teachers and parents, we are helping to restore First Nations languages that were repressed during the residential school era. We are also strengthening Indigenous cultural identity for generations to come.”

This project was funded in part by the Government of Canada.

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