Cree language posters can now be spotted at some District School Board Ontario North East (DSB1) schools, including Timmins.
The posters were donated by Mary Jane Archibald, who works at the Ininew Friendship Centre and owns CreeMij Designs. Fifteen per cent of proceeds from her business go towards revitalizing Cree language programming.
“I’m very happy that people are anxious to receive these resources and use them,” Archibald said. “I look forward to continuing distributing more Cree language resources to our communities.”
DSB1’s director of education Lesleigh Dye said the board is “thrilled” to receive the posters, which will go to about 18 schools in the board's northern and central regions.
“At DSB1, we know that culture for our students, particularly students who identify as Indigenous, it’s very attached to language. So, for our students living in the Timmins area and in the north and west, Cree language is often the language that is spoken at home or by elders in the community,” she said. “And we wanted to show commitment to our students but also honour the different languages in our region by accepting this generous donation and by displaying the posters in our classrooms.”
Posters are in the Cree language’s “L” dialect and show various subjects such as food, weather, transportation, animals or numbers. Posters were designed by the Cree Nation Government’s child and family service department.
“They allowed us to use them and then we just changed them into Moose Cree "L" dialect,” Archibald said. “We look forward to working with them again to get more posters and then translate them into Moose Cree, then print and distribute more.”
In September, the Ininew Friendship Centre also held an event launching two children’s books. Due to COVID-19, it was a drive-by event with about 150 people driving by, Archibald said.
Funding for the books was received through Canadian Heritage. The books are written in syllabics and are connected to a Moose Cree Media Player app. Illustrations and the media player were created by a non-profit Language Conservancy.
“You can point your phone or iPad or whatever you’re using to a picture on the page and the program recognizes the picture and it will read that page or say whatever there is on the page,” Archibald said.
She said books were donated to community organizations and schools as well as to Taykwa Tagamou First Nation and Moose Cree First Nation.
For the second part of the project, the centre is planning to make a phrase app which could allow users to search for a word, list all the phrases with that word and then translate the phrase into Cree.