Norman Fleury (Elder, Métis National Council) at the Official Languages Committee
On November 29th, 2012. See this statement in context. November 29th, 2012 / 11:30 a.m. Norman Fleury Elder, Métis National Council Thank you. Good morning. My name is Norman Fleury. I am very pleased to be with you today to talk about the importance of our language, Michif. For our nation, the Michifs of Canada, it is important to preserve our language, to keep it and to document all of our stories in Canada. It is an important part of Canada's heritage. The Michif language came about in this country when first nations and French people from France met. I have ancestors who are still in France, in Quebec and in the Canadian Prairies. I am happy to be able to speak all of these languages, but especially my first language, which is Michif. I am Michif. There are Métis people, Métis and half-breeds. I am Michif. My language and my nation are associated; I am Michif. That is why the Michif language bears that name, just like someone who speaks French is French and someone who speaks the Dakota language is Dakota, and so on for other languages. It is a question of association. I don't have much time to talk today. I apologize. We could talk about many things, for example camps for young people that would allow them to keep their language. The Michif language is made up of two languages: the nouns and the grammar come from French, while the verbs come from the Cree language. Michif was my mother's first language. She passed away two years ago at the age of 108. I was born in 1949, and my first language is Michif. My maternal grandparents were born in 1877 and 1880, and it was also their first language. My great-grandparents also spoke Michif. This language was not created yesterday. It is above all an oral language. We started writing our language about 20 years ago in Canada. Linguists have studied our language. In North America, in the United States, in Belcourt, in North Dakota, our people are still present. Our language is spoken and taught in institutions.


In Canada, we don't have institutions; it's sad. The Michif language is taught in communities that are specifically Michif. In 2013, I will start to teach at the University of Brandon. It will be the first time that our language will be known. It is mainly French, but we still borrow words from English, for example the truck, the computer, the telephone, and so on.


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