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Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada
Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada

Jan-Apr 2017

Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada Jan-Apr 2017 A CREE INITIATIVE Helping First Nations people give mother-tongue
Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada Jan-Apr 2017 A CREE INITIATIVE Helping First Nations people give mother-tongue

A CREE INITIATIVE

Helping First Nations people give

mother-tongue Scriptures to their own communities.

Contents

Jan-Apr 2017 • Volume 35 • Number 1

Feat ures

Stories by Dwayne Janke Photos by Natasha Ramírez

  • 6 A Cree Initiative Helping First Nations people give God’s Word to their own communities in their mother tongue.

    • 11 Shapes of Scripture

    • 16 I Almost Lost My Language Residential school experiences serve as a backdrop for several motivated Oji-Cree Bible translators.

    • 25 What Residential Schools Did to Aboriginal Languages

    • 26 Dear Diary What do they do at a training workshop for First Nations mother-tongue translators?

    • 31 Translation Update: God Speaks Directly to Us Three New Testaments and one Bible completed with Canadian involvement. By Janet Seever

In Others’ Words

“It is blessed work supplying the aborigines

of any country with the Word of Life; that Word which reveals to them Jesus, and

raises them in spiritual

things. . .

.”

– John Horden (1828-1893), Anglican Bishop of Moosonee Diocese (James Bay region), about his Bible translation work in Moose Cree

Contents Jan-Apr 2017 • Volume 35 • Number 1 Feat ures Stories by Dwayne Janke Photos

On the cover: Jessie Atlookan and Ruth Kitchekesik lead a procession during the Anglican Sunday morning worship at Saint

Matthew’s Church in Kingfisher Lake, Ont. The two are also on the team leading translation of God’s Word into their Oji-Cree language, part of the Wycliffe Canada- sponsored Cree Initiative project.

Photo by Natasha Ramírez.

In Every Issue

  • 2 Foreword What Step You Gonna Take? By Dwayne Janke

  • 4 Watchword

Languages with Scripture a “Pleasant Surprise”

  • 33 Beyond Words Naturally, It’s Better

  • 34 A Thousand Words Moose Mentorship

Contents Jan-Apr 2017 • Volume 35 • Number 1 Feat ures Stories by Dwayne Janke Photos
Contents Jan-Apr 2017 • Volume 35 • Number 1 Feat ures Stories by Dwayne Janke Photos
  • 35 Last Word

35 Last Word

Bible Translation is Essential for First Nations

By Roy Eyre

By Roy Eyre
35 Last Word Bible Translation is Essential for First Nations By Roy Eyre
35 Last Word Bible Translation is Essential for First Nations By Roy Eyre
35 Last Word Bible Translation is Essential for First Nations By Roy Eyre
35 Last Word Bible Translation is Essential for First Nations By Roy Eyre
35 Last Word Bible Translation is Essential for First Nations By Roy Eyre
Contents Jan-Apr 2017 • Volume 35 • Number 1 Feat ures Stories by Dwayne Janke Photos

Foreword

What Step You Gonna Take?

Dwayne Janke, Editor

Foreword What Step You Gonna Take? Dwayne Janke, Editor I t’s a song that still haunts

I t’s a song that still haunts me

every time I hear it. In “Stolen

Land,” Canadian singer-songwriter

Bruce Cockburn calls out the

colonial powers for their treatment of indigenous people. Among other things, the song alludes to one of the saddest chapters in “our” country’s mistreatment of First Nations people: residential schools. Kidnap all the children, put ‘em in a foreign system

/ Bring them up in no-man’s land where no one really wants

them / It’s a stolen

land. . .

.

It’s easy for us to view

the sad treatment of First Nations people in Canada, including residential schools, as acts of a past history committed by previous generations. But Cockburn asserts we all still have a part to play

today: So now we’ve all discovered the world wasn’t only made for whites / What step you gonna take to try and set things right / In this stolen land.

Key to the identity-purging aims of residential schools was an effort to eliminate pupils’ use of their native languages.

On our national stage, the federal government launched the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to investigate the impact of residential schools that operated from 1883 to the late 1990s. What became clear in hearings

across the country was that the government’s policy

encouraged “cultural genocide.” Using Canada’s largely mainline churches to run these schools, the government aimed to essentially transform young “Indian” students into whites. If you have read the TRC’s reports or have seen the news coverage about them, you know that the residential school system was a failed experiment that went very, very badly. Riddled with cases of abuse, residential schools ripped apart the social fabric of many indigenous communities. Key to the identity-purging aims of residential schools was an effort to eliminate pupils’ use of their native languages. Responding to this, the TRC has called for action to promote mother-tongue languages among First Nations people. We at Wycliffe Bible Translators couldn’t agree more with the TRC. Our organization has always upheld the importance of the heart language—the mother tongue—to a people’s identity. This includes Aboriginal languages spoken right here from coast to coast. Through donations from Canadian believers, Wycliffe Canada is helping to sponsor an effort called the Cree Initiative, featured in this issue of Word Alive. This language cluster project is training and assisting First Nations people, from Alberta to Ontario, to revitalize their languages and translate the Scriptures for use in their churches and communities. These local believers are eager to see God speak His Word into the hearts of their people. No doubt it will take more than language revitalization, including Bible translation, for First Nations people to completely recover from past mistreatment. But these efforts can play an important role. So, to quote Cockburn again: “What step you gonna take to try and set things right / In this stolen land”? For starters, you can read the stories that follow. God may be calling you to become a partner with the Cree Initiative.

Foreword What Step You Gonna Take? Dwayne Janke, Editor I t’s a song that still haunts
Foreword What Step You Gonna Take? Dwayne Janke, Editor I t’s a song that still haunts

Word Alive is the official publication of Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada, informing, inspiring and involving the Christian public as partners in the worldwide Bible translation movement. Editor Dwayne Janke Designer Cindy Buckshon Senior Staff Writer Doug Lockhart Staff Writers Nathan Frank, Janet Seever Staff Photographers Alan Hood, Natasha RamÍrez. Word Alive is published three times annually by Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada, copyright 2017. Printed by McCallum Printing Group, Edmonton, Alta. For permission to reprint magazine content, email editor_wam@wycliffe.ca. For additional copies, email media_ resources@wycliffe.ca. For address changes, email circulation@wycliffe.ca, or use the reply form. For Word Alive online, visit wordalive.wycliffe.ca.

Foreword What Step You Gonna Take? Dwayne Janke, Editor I t’s a song that still haunts

Wycliffe Canada links the Canadian Church with the world's

minority language groups, to see community transformation through Bible translation, use of translated Scriptures,

mother-tongue literacy and education. Canadian Head Office

4316 10 St NE, Calgary AB T2E 6K3. Phone (403) 250-5411

or toll free 1-800-463-1143, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. mountain time. Email info@wycliffe.ca. French speakers call toll free 1-877-747-2622 or email francophone@wycliffe.ca. For people with disabilities, Wycliffe will make written and non-written information accessible upon request, consulting with the requester to determine what format or communication support is suitable, and then providing this in a timely manner, at no additional cost.

Foreword What Step You Gonna Take? Dwayne Janke, Editor I t’s a song that still haunts
Foreword What Step You Gonna Take? Dwayne Janke, Editor I t’s a song that still haunts

Watchword

LANGUAGES WITH SCRIPTURE A ‘PLEASANT SURPRISE’

N early half of the world’s living languages now have some of God’s Word, according to new statistics from Wycliffe Global

Alliance (WGA).

As of November 2016, WGA reported that 3,223 (45 per cent) of the 7,097 languages spoken on the globe have some Scripture portions. The international umbrella organization (to which Wycliffe Canada belongs) expected to see this number surpass the 3,000 mark in 2016, but was pleasantly surprised to discover it was much higher. “By combining key lists, we identified some previously

unreported

Scripture. . .

,” WGA explained. “This year we have

also included Scripture in languages previously excluded from Wycliffe’s counts due to a lack of known first-language speakers, and we have expanded our definition of ‘portions.’” WGA statistics now include a wider range of initial products as portions, such as translated Scripture from within a book of the Bible, or a selection of Scriptures from across several books. Of the languages with some of God’s Word, WGA says 636 have a complete Bible, 1,442 have a New Testament, and 1,145 have portions and stories. More than 2,400 known active translation/language programs are in progress, with WGA organizations involved in 83 per cent of these. Across the globe, however, 1.5 billion people do not have the full Bible in their first language. And between 1,700 and 1,800 languages—spoken by 160 million people—still need Bible translation to begin.

For complete statistics, visit www.wycliffe.net/statistics.

papers about linguistic theory, she demonstrated keen insight herself and is credited with helping solve numerous linguistic and translation challenges. Pike also taught classes at the University of Oklahoma in Norman for many years, and in countless workshops around the world. She served as a passionate advocate for minority language groups well into her retirement years.

NEPAL QUAKE VICTIMS RECEIVE TRAUMA HEALING

  • I n April 2015, a 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal, killing thousands and destroying more than 600,000 homes. In response, Wycliffe’s key partner organization, SIL International, partnered with a Nepalese ministry to facilitate a trauma healing workshop this past May. During 14 small group sessions (pictured below), participants heard and discussed stories, created songs and shared their own stories.

Photo courtesy of SIL International
Photo courtesy of SIL International

NOTED SIL LINGUIST DIES AT 101

E velyn Griset Pike, the widow of world-renowned scholar Kenneth Pike, died on June 3, 2016, at the age of 101. Evelyn (pictured below), who was also the niece of Wycliffe’s founder, William Cameron Townsend, made her own mark in the field of linguistics and Bible translation.

Along with Townsend and her husband, Evelyn Pike helped found SIL International, Wycliffe’s key partner organization. Although she co-authored some of her husband’s books and

Photo courtesy of SIL International
Photo courtesy of SIL International

The Healing the Wounds of Trauma workbook and workshops were originally developed by SIL staff and professional counsellors to help communities that had been traumatized by war. Resources have been translated into more than 150 languages and two new versions are now available: one for those working with children, and an oral story version for communities with no written language. SIL continues to work with partners worldwide to train and certify facilitators to care for traumatized people.

UNICEF REVIEW AFFIRMS VALUE OF MOTHER-TONGUE EDUCATION

A recent review of 400 African languages commissioned by UNICEF supports global evidence that mother-tongue education is a critical aspect of quality education.

Authored by Dr. Barbara Trudell of SIL International, Wycliffe’s key partner, the report entitled The Impact of Language Policy and Practice on Children’s Learning: Evidence from Eastern and Southern Africa, reviews language policies in 21 African countries. It concludes that although the number of children attending primary school in Eastern and Southern Africa has risen significantly, the quality of education has not. “One of the major reasons for this discrepancy,” reports Trudell,

Photo courtesy of UNICEF
Photo courtesy of UNICEF

“. . .

is the use of international languages as languages of

instruction, as early as Grade 1 and even in preschool.” These languages are unfit to serve as a medium for learning for the millions of kids who don’t speak them. SIL has been a strong advocate for mother-tongue education for many decades.

TONGANS MOBILIZE FOR BIBLE TRANSLATION

T his past May, the Bible Translation Organization of Tonga appointed Maxy Koloamatangi (pictured below) as director of

the five-year-old indigenous agency. The 35-year-old Tongan man heads a small team that promotes the work of Bible translation in local schools and churches, as well as Tongan communities in New Zealand and Australia. A monolingual people, Tongans have had the Bible in their

language since 1862. “I have a heart and a passion for people who don't have any

Bible,” says Maxy, “for the people who are

. . .

still waiting for

Else Patten Photo
Else Patten Photo

someone to bring the Good News.” Lupe 'Ovalau Mokena is preparing to do just that in Papua New Guinea. The Tongan woman will be the first Bible translation missionary to be sent out from Tonga. It is a nation of 170 islands—36 are inhabited—in the South Pacific Ocean, located about two- thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand.

NO WORD FOR “KING”

H ow do you translate the word “kingdom” when a language has no word for “king?” The Tigak people of Papua New Guinea have wrestled with this very issue, along with several other key terms encountered when translating Scripture.

“Key terms” are words in the Bible that are especially important for understanding its message, such as “grace,” “forgiveness,” and “salvation,” and they are often difficult to translate. At one point, community members from several Tigak villages joined the discussion in a series of workshops. Although a final decision was not reached at that time, the community was energized to continue talking about translation and how to best communicate key terms in their language. While the Tigak continue their search for the right word for “kingdom,” translators are using the phrase, “the place where God rules.”

PANAMA’S KUNA PEOPLE RECEIVE “JESUS” FILM

T he “JESUS” film in Panama’s San Blas Kuna language premiered this past July at a major theatre in Panama

City. Since then, the film has been shown in various Kuna

communities throughout Panama.

About 50,000 Kuna speakers live on 49 major islands of the

San Blas archipelago, while another 100,000-plus live elsewhere in Panama. Wycliffe’s involvement with the San Blas Kuna began in 1982 when Keith and Wilma Forster, from South Africa and Canada respectively, began working with local partners to translate the New Testament. Four years after its completion in 1995, a team led by the Forsters began translating the Old Testament. The translation of the entire Bible was dedicated in 2014.

78 13 Number of Wycliffe Canada-sponsored projects in its world focus areas. WORD Language groups potentially
78
13
Number of Wycliffe
Canada-sponsored
projects in its world
focus areas.
WORD
Language groups
potentially impacted by
this focus area work.
COUNT
107+
$547,769
million
Population potentially impacted
in these focus areas.
What Canadians gave in FY
2016 for work in focus areas.
Source: Wycliffe Canada

A Cree Initiative

Helping First Nations people give God’s Word to their own communities in their mother tongue.

Stories by Dwayne Janke Photos by Natasha Ramírez

Wycliffe’s Bill Jancewicz and Ruth Kitchekesik scan the large frozen expanse while ice fishing near Kingfisher Lake in northern Ontario. Bill is helping to train Ruth and the rest of the Oji-Cree Bible translation team how to translate the Scriptures into their mother tongue. Facilitating, training and translation consulting are the main roles being played by Wycliffe and the Canadian Bible Society staff in the Cree Initiative project.

A s a training workshop for First Nations mother-tongue Bible translators was winding

down this past April in Guelph,

Ont., Zipporah Mamakwa of the Oji-Cree translation team eagerly shared something with her colleagues on other teams.

The soft-spoken teacher from Kingfisher Lake, Ont., said a tribal elder had asked her to come to his house to talk about the Oji-Cree Bible translation project there. The elder said something came to him—a dream—in the middle of the night. He told Zipporah: “I want to encourage the translators to continue on at this Bible translation project, because God is doing something wonderful and powerful in this land.” When an elder says something like that, it represents the most powerful support you can get, Zipporah told a dozen peers at the workshop. “And he continues to encourage me to make sure that I pass it on to others,” she added. “So there—I have passed it on: ‘God is doing something powerful and wonderful in this land amongst our people.’ ” The Oji-Cree elder’s dream-inspired comment may sound grand, but it is no overstatement. After several hundred years of missionary and church ministry among Cree First Nations people, finally there is an increasing local push to see heart- language translations of God’s Word reprinted, completed, or started. Called the Cree Initiative, this project could impact 100,000- plus people in five related Cree language groups, from Alberta to Ontario (see map on pg. 10). They include: Northern Alberta Cree (spoken in 20-plus communities); Plains Cree (70-plus communities); Woods Cree (20-plus communities); Swampy Cree (20-plus communities) and Oji-Cree (12-plus communities). This cluster of languages—among the largest and most viable in North America—features grammatical structures that are very much alike, with speakers who share similar indigenous cultures.

INDIGENOUS FAITH NEEDS INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE

While Bible translation efforts in this project may eventually expand to other First Nations languages, the Cree Initiative’s focus for the foreseeable future is on the five Cree languages. Whatever languages are involved, Mark MacDonald, the Anglican Church’s national indigenous bishop, is eager to see it happen. MacDonald says that Christian faith is quite vibrant in a lot of communities. However, poverty and the inter-generational

effects of oppression and forced programs of assimilation (such as the residential schools tragedy), have produced “toxic conditions” in many places. “These are at the heart of the ministry challenges the gospel faces in First Nation communities today,” says MacDonald. The way many Aboriginal people look at the Christian Church has been deeply marred by the residential school experience in Canada, he says. “Today, however, many separate the gospel and Jesus from that experience, and look to faith as essential to rebuilding indigenous life and community.” And, crucial to deepening faith among First Nations are the Scriptures in the mother tongue, stresses MacDonald.

I believe that ‘the 'Word made flesh’ requires local languages. The Pentecostal truth that God speaks to us in the mother tongue is a part of the Church’s foundation."

A s a training workshop for First Nations mother-tongue Bible translators was winding down this past

“Indigenous theology depends on indigenous language. Revitalization of language and a vital and effective faith depend on each other. “I believe that ‘the Word made flesh’ requires local languages. The Pentecostal truth that God speaks to us in the mother tongue is a part of the Church’s foundation. Everyone wants to hear the gospel in ‘their language,’ even if that language is being lost.” MacDonald asserts that every major language among First Nations in Canada should have a mother-tongue translation that meets the community’s stated need.

LOCALLY DRIVEN PRIORITIES

MacDonald helped to set the initial goals for the Cree Initiative, when he gathered with First Nation representatives at a mid- June 2014 meeting in Prince Albert, Sask. Staff with Wycliffe Bible Translators, the Canadian Bible Society (CBS) and others were also there. Myles Leitch, CBS director of Scripture translation, says the goal was to hear what the First Nations leaders in attendance wanted done and for them to identify what help they needed. “It’s not about us wanting to send missionaries in there to do a job no matter what. It’s them saying, ‘We really need to have Scriptures in our language.’ ” The Cree church leaders requested technical training and assistance from Wycliffe and CBS, including providing mother- tongue translator (MTT) training workshops (see related story, pg. 26) and translation consulting.

Michael Hudson for General Synod Communications (TOP) Bill Jancewicz shows mother-tongue translators in the Cree Initiative
Michael Hudson for General Synod Communications
Michael Hudson for General Synod Communications

(TOP) Bill Jancewicz shows mother-tongue translators in the Cree Initiative how to work with Paratext, a computer program widely used by Bible translators. (BOTTOM, LEFT) National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald, of the Anglican Church of Canada, is eager to see Aboriginal translators trained so they can bring

Michael Hudson for General Synod Communications (TOP) Bill Jancewicz shows mother-tongue translators in the Cree Initiative

God’s Word in their people’s mother tongues, a key to making churches truly indigenous. (ABOVE) As translation of Scriptures advances, biblical words and phrases are being discussed and standardized in Oji-Cree, which, like other Cree languages, uses syllabics.

Northern Alberta Labrador Sea Cree Hudson Bay Woods Cree Swampy Cree Plains Cree Oji-Cree
Northern
Alberta
Labrador Sea
Cree
Hudson Bay
Woods
Cree
Swampy
Cree
Plains
Cree
Oji-Cree

(LEFT) The five languages that

are the current priorities for work

in the Cree Initiative project

are spoken in widely scattered

communities from Alberta to

Ontario. (ABOVE) This means

considerable travel for project

staff, such as facilitators Bill and

Norma Jean Jancewicz of Wycliffe,

who must take expensive flights to isolated Cree communities. A goal for the project is to recruit

additional staff who can live in

some of these communities to

provide ongoing training and

assistance to local Cree translators.

Wycliffe’s Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz, who are facilitating the effort, have led two such workshops so far, as well as onsite training for MTTs. The Jancewiczes draw on more than 28 years of experience with the Naskapi people of Quebec, who speak a related language in the Algonquian family of languages that includes Cree (see Word Alive, Spring 2013). Translators with the Naskapi, who already finished a New Testament and are working on the Old Testament, attend the Cree MTT workshops. The Naskapi representatives both encourage the Cree translators and share insights from their own experience.

The power of the Word in our language changes our thought patterns, and it is more meaningful and relevant to who we are as aboriginals ."

Wycliffe’s Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz, who are facilitating the effort, have led two such workshops

Bill hopes for increased Naskapi involvement. “I envision them becoming trainers themselves at some point, but they’re not there yet. They don’t have the confidence or capacity to train at a workshop. But they will. Right now they can share what God is doing in their lives and their project.” To that end, Silas Nabinicaboo, one of five Naskapi Bible translators, shares some advice for the other First Nations translators, based on his 20 years of experience. “Ask God to give you strength, courage, to do that. If you get stuck with [translating] any words, seek the help of an elder. I like to use elders because they know the language more than I do.”

WWW
WWW

Watch video of First Nation speakers in this project reading translated verses of God’s Word in their language at

wordalive.wycliffe.ca/stories/a-cree-initiative.

He says that in the end, Bible translation will be worth all the hard work, because it will be able to deepen Christian faith among the Cree. “It’s important to have God’s Word in their own language—in their heart, in their heads.”

NOT YET OR JUST STARTING

The Jancewiczes hope to help spawn a vision for Bible translation among the Northern Alberta Cree and Swampy Cree at some point. However, there are still no local Bible translation project committees or trained mother-tongue translators in place, which are crucial to championing and doing the work in those languages. “So we pray a lot,” says Norma Jean. “’Lord, if you open that door, then we’re going to step through it.’ ” In Woods Cree, work is in the very early stages. A key player in future Bible translation will surely be Rev. Sam Halkett of the Anglican Church, who ministers in Cree communities near Prince Albert, Sask.

Shapes of Scripture

T o outsiders, they look like triangles, arrow points, canes,

upside down Ls and joined hooks. To Cree language

speakers across Canada, however, these symbols are parts

of their own unique and indigenous writing system. Which is why Canadian syllabics is used as the text for translations of God’s Word in many Cree language varieties. Canadian syllabics is commonly used for Aboriginal languages in the language families of Athabaskan, Inuit and Algonquian (the latter includes the various Cree languages). Syllabics represent consonant+vowel combinations, suitable for Cree languages where words are usually composed of consonant-vowel, consonant-vowel sequences. In syllabics, the nine consonants are represented by character shape. The four vowels in these languages are represented by character orientation (rotations or flips). So, for example, in Cree, pi is , po is , pa is and pe is . Vowels appearing alone are represented as hollow triangles similarly oriented by direction. For example, i is , o is , a is and e is .

“It’s very easy to teach just those shapes

and four directions,”

. . . says Bill Jancewicz, facilitator for the Cree Initiative Bible translation projects. Syllabics can be learned in a few days, while the Roman letter-based writing system of English takes much longer. This is the reason syllabics easily spread over great distances after the writing system was created by British missionary James Evans in 1840, for Cree living in Manitoba. From two hunters who Evans taught to read syllabics, the system radiated outward. Cree taught other Cree, from one group to another. “So in 10 years,” says Jancewicz, “syllabics spread all across northern Canada. Not primarily because of missionaries, but because of Cree speakers, who were so excited about being able to read [and write] their own language, that they taught it to one another.” The people began to use syllabics to write on tree bark with burnt sticks, leaving messages on hunting trails. Evans created a printing press out of a discarded Hudson Bay fur press, fitted with hand-made syllabic type and ink made from soot and fish oil. He produced many hymnals and prayer books in Cree. In 1862, 15 years after Evans died, the British and Foreign Bible Society published a Cree Bible in syllabics. Considered as part of their Cree cultural identity, syllabics are viewed by some as a gift from the Creator to two Cree elders, hundreds of kilometres apart, about the same time as Evans came to Canada. “They dreamed in two different parts of the country that a message would come to them that would be written down,” says Jancewicz. As God’s Word is translated into syllabics for various Cree languages, that dream continues to come true nearly two centuries later.

In our communities, there is an emptiness . . . our children need to find the

In our communities, there is an

emptiness

. . .

our children need

to find the Creator to fill that emptiness. I think that is the strength of this Bible translation work. It’s a way to pass on our faith to future generations— that’s our legacy."

An avid teacher of his language for years, Halkett is responsible for three church services each Sunday. English Scriptures, says Halkett, provide many Woods Cree speakers with only a surface understanding of Christian truth. “I think they’re missing the real heart of the gospel itself, in the language of our people,” he says. “The power of the Word in our language changes our thought patterns, and it is more meaningful and relevant to who we are as aboriginals. And God is the Word, God is the Spirit, and He is in our language—it is a gift to us.” He hopes to assemble a team of translators to bring God’s Word to his people in their heart language.

MOST RECENT TRANSLATION

Oji-Cree is the latest language to see translation begin. The visionary behind the effort is Lydia Mamakwa, area bishop for the Anglican Church’s Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh, the first completely indigenous diocese. She leads a team of six mother-tongue translators at Kingfisher Lake, Ont. Mamakwa and a colleague had personal experience in residential schools where their mother tongue was prohibited (see story, pg. 16). Since 2015, with a strong community translation committee behind them, the team has translated 2,000-plus verses into Oji-Cree for their church’s Bible readings each Sunday. This is a welcome change from using Scriptures translated for other types of Cree, which the Oji-Cree don’t fully understand. “People are very happy with it,” says Mamakwa. “People say it makes it so much clearer to understand the message and what God is saying. It becomes so real.” Her Bible-translating sister, Zipporah, says Oji-Cree Scriptures will play a key role in the crucial work of maintaining the language. “It is my belief as a language teacher that the language amongst our children brings a sense of identity, a sense of belonging, a sense of security and comfort. “Without our language we are lost, our children are confused,” adds Zipporah. “We don’t feel whole without our language.”

PLAINS CREE ON THE WAY

The Plains Cree portion of the Cree Initiative received a boost by being named a priority at the Prince Albert meeting. Since the early 1970s, CBS, Wycliffe and First Nations church leaders have been involved in Bible translation efforts for this largest of Cree languages in Canada.

In our communities, there is an emptiness . . . our children need to find the
In our communities, there is an emptiness . . . our children need to find the

The Cree Initiative is already blessed with strong Cree advocates to encourage and staff mother-tongue translation teams. (TOP) Rev. Sam Halkett is keen to see Bible translation start for Woods Cree speakers in northern Saskatchewan, where he ministers with the Anglican Church of Canada. (ABOVE) Zipporah Mamakwa is a school teacher who is on the team that has already translated several thousand verses into Oji-Cree for Sunday Anglican church lectionary readings in Kingfisher Lake, Ont. In her spare time, Zipporah loves doing traditional beadwork.

The First Nations groups that make up the Cree Initiative do not only speak related languages—they

The First Nations groups that make up the Cree Initiative do not only speak related languages—they enjoy similar cultures and ways of life, as well. These include such traditional practices as trapping, fishing and hunting. For example, members of Kingfisher Lake First Nation (located more than 500 km north of Thunder Bay, Ont.) gather each fall for a festival that coincides with moose-hunting season. They enjoy eating such favourite dishes as moose-oatmeal porridge and moose stew, along with freshly caught fish.

In the 1980s, Cree speaker and Anglican Church minister, Stan Cuthand, started work on a contemporary Plains Cree translation. He completed a first draft of the New Testament and about half of the Old Testament. Many workshops have been held to involve additional Cree speakers in the process of reviewing and giving input to improve the translation. This review process is now the focus of Dolores Sand and Gayle Weenie (who live in or near Saskatoon, Sask.) with ongoing input at consultations with groups of Cree speakers. Ruth Heeg of CBS has served as co-ordinator and translation consultant, but because of her retirement, other CBS translation personnel will be filling these roles as required. Both retired teachers, Sand and Weenie are painstakingly checking Cuthand’s draft translation for spelling and grammar, as well as for accuracy and clarity. These two Catholic lay leaders, who grew up in Cree communities in Saskatchewan, are passionate about giving fellow Plains Cree speakers the Word of God. “In our communities,” says Sand, “there is an emptiness

. . .

our

children need to find the Creator to fill that emptiness. I think that is the strength of this Bible translation work. It’s a way to pass on our faith to future generations—that’s our legacy.” Weenie says working on the translation is also a way to reverse the impact of residential schools, which prohibited her own parents from speaking Plains Cree as children, in an attempt to break personal links to their culture. “I think about that often and I say, ‘I’m getting the last laugh because I still know the language and I’m trying to pass it on.’ “And for me personally, the Bible is the way of getting a deeper understanding of God.” As the translation checking progresses and Scriptures are distributed, the two colleagues hope to see God’s Word in Plains Cree used in church lectionary readings. Heeg says that people respond best to the gospel in their mother tongue. “The indigenous languages are still the mother tongue for a large number of people [in Canada],” she stresses.

LEGACY BIBLE GETS REFRESHED

Sand, assisted by CBS’s Heeg, is also helping to check CBS- keyboarded syllabics text of the Scriptures from the out-of-print Mason Cree Bible from the 1860s. Bill Jancewicz describes this legacy Bible as a Cree equivalent of the English King James version, because it is highly regarded and honoured. As a result, it is found in many churches of First Nations communities no matter the variety of Cree spoken there. “It’s an ‘Indian’ Bible,” he says. It was translated in 1862 for speakers of a now-archaic Cree “on the plain” of Canada, by Rev. William Mason and his part- Cree wife Sophia, at Norway House, Man. In 1908, the translation was reprinted after a revision by Rev. John Alexander Mackay. The Mason Cree Bible has been read in First Nations services by generations of catechists, deacons, lay-readers and clergy, who then explained it in the local Cree language. However, younger speakers of these Aboriginal languages have grown up not

In the 1980s, Cree speaker and Anglican Church minister, Stan Cuthand, started work on a contemporary

This is a chance for reparations that will lead to revitalization, that will bless and enhance the whole Church in Canada."

understanding the older language or the syllabic writing system, so it can’t meet the needs of all Cree speakers. Nonetheless, because of the Mason Cree Bible’s stature, it is a priority of the Cree First Nations for CBS to reprint it. These Scriptures will also be a searchable, digital reference for current First Nations translators.

CHANCE FOR REPARATIONS

Whatever Bible translation work they are part of, the MTTs involved are thankful for the prayers and financial donations of Canadian Christians, including those coming through Wycliffe Canada. Until Zipporah Mamakwa discovered how the work was funded, she didn’t realize that the broader Canadian Church cared about First Nations believers and their communities. “I would say that the help and support that we get from them is way beyond what we can express our thanks for.” Bishop MacDonald says non-Aboriginal Christian support for the Cree translation work acts as one way to make amends for the past mistreatment First Nations people have experienced. “This is a chance for reparations that will lead to revitalization that will bless and enhance the whole Church in Canada.”

In the 1980s, Cree speaker and Anglican Church minister, Stan Cuthand, started work on a contemporary
In the 1980s, Cree speaker and Anglican Church minister, Stan Cuthand, started work on a contemporary

(OPPOSITE) Mother-tongue translators involved in the Cree Initiative say the 100,000-plus speakers of their languages—whether young or old—will benefit from Bible translation. God’s Word in the various varieties of Cree can provide spiritual help for the social challenges faced by First Nations people. Moreover, mother- tongue Scriptures will play a key role in revitalizing their languages, which are so crucial to a much-needed sense of identity, security and belonging.

(ABOVE) Dolores Sand and Gayle Weenie take a break from a mother-tongue Bible translation training workshop held this past year in Guelph, Ont. (see related story, pg. 26). Dolores and Gayle—both retired teachers in the Saskatoon, Sask., area— are painstakingly checking a draft translation of the New Testament and part of the Old Testament in contemporary Plains Cree. It was done by Anglican minister Stan Cuthand in the 1980s. The two Catholic lay leaders see the work as part of a personal legacy to pass their faith on to future generations.

I Almost Lost

Residential school experiences serve as a backdrop for several motivated Oji-Cree Bible translators.

My Language

Illustration by Anita Ho

Elements of the residential school experiences of Rev. Lydia Mamakwa and Ruth Kitchekesik are represented in a composite illustration by Anita Ho. The 22-year- old artist did the drawing after pondering their stories and reviewing archival photos of Poplar Hill residential school. Anita is a recent graduate of Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

O ften, it began with a

family home. Outside

morning knock on the

door of a First Nations

stood the local Indian agent, the local clergyman, or maybe even an RCMP officer. The children inside were to leave for residential school, the event their parents had long been dreading. It was unnerving, even if the children had been given advanced warning. But now, it was time to go.

For 150,000-plus Aboriginal children in Canada over more than a century, this was often how their residential school experience started. They were taken from their parents and transported to a strange learning and living environment, where their language and culture would be demeaned and oppressed. Some would suffer abuse, illness and even death in these 130- plus, government-financed boarding schools, usually run by Canada’s largest mainline churches. Ruth Kitchekesik and Lydia Mamakwa, Oji-Cree from the community of Kingfisher Lake in northern Ontario, were more fortunate. Their residential school stories are not as harrowing as many others across Canada. Nonetheless, their experiences are a backdrop for a personal passion to serve on a team of Oji-Cree mother-tongue Bible translators, part of the Wycliffe Canada- sponsored Cree Initiative project (see story, pg. 6). “I almost lost my language when I was 10 years old when I came back from residential school,” says Ruth. “That’s part of the reason I want to work in translation. That one time I almost lost my language, and my language is the most important thing to me.”

DESTINATION: POPLAR HILL

As young girls, Lydia and Ruth attended Poplar Hill Development School. It was located in Ontario, near the corner where the province’s border with Manitoba bends sharply to the northeast. Poplar Hill residential school was operated from 1962-1989 by the Mennonite-affiliated Northern Light Gospel Mission. The organization, an outgrowth of the work that Mennonites from Pennsylvania had being doing in Minnesota, established three residential schools in northwestern Ontario. It was 1971 when both Lydia and Ruth left Kingfisher Lake on the same plane to make the 300-km trip southwest to Poplar Hill. An Indian agent visited Lydia’s parents, pressing them to send their daughter to Poplar Hill rather than continue at the small, one-

O ften, it began with a family home. Outside morning knock on the door of a
room school at Kingfisher Lake. Some of Lydia’s friends had gone to Poplar Hill several years

room school at Kingfisher Lake. Some of Lydia’s friends had gone to Poplar Hill several years earlier, but her parents initially resisted letting her attend. Two of their children had died from illness; they couldn’t handle the absence of another child at that point.

“One day I got caught speaking my language and was made to write, ‘I will not speak my native language,’ on the blackboard a hundred times.’ ”

Lydia was 14 years old when she finally went to Poplar Hill. “At first, I was very excited to leave, to go, because I thought it was a big adventure,” recalls Lydia, who is now the bishop for the Anglican Church’s first indigenous diocese (called the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh). But upon arrival at the school, she was less enthusiastic with the rules laid down by staff. “We couldn’t wear our own clothes, except on Sundays. They provided the clothing. I had to wear a dress,” Lydia remembers. “There was really no privacy. They would dig through our stuff.”

ONLY ENGLISH

Like all residential schools, Poplar Hill had one especially difficult rule: students were to speak only English. No matter which First Nations community the pupils were from, their languages were banned outright. This was a shock to Lydia, who even as a teen felt her mother tongue was beautiful. Under threat of punishment, Lydia secretly talked with her friends in Oji-Cree. “One day I got caught speaking my language and was made to write, ‘I will not speak my native language,’ on the blackboard a hundred times,’ ” says Lydia. “I didn’t question it, being a 14-year- old. All I remember is that my arm was getting tired and I was by myself in the dining room.” Though Lydia may have missed enlarging her Oji-Cree vocabulary because of her time at Poplar Hill, she didn’t lose her language. For that, she partly credits writing letters to her parents every few months. Because her father and mother didn’t understand much English, Lydia was permitted to write in syllabics, the writing system of the Cree (see related sidebar story, pg. 11). Poplar Hill teachers used a First Nations person on staff who could read syllabics to translate the letters, recalls Lydia. “Our correspondence was censored.”

(TOP, LEFT) Rev. Lydia Mamakwa left Poplar Hill residential school with an imposed mindset that European culture was superior. She has since realized her Oji-Cree culture and language are gifts from God. Now she pushes for her mother tongue to be used in everything her people do. (TOP, RIGHT) Ruth Kitchekesik reads Scripture at her church in Kingfisher Lake, Ont. As a 10-year-old student at Poplar Hill (see inset of her school yearbook photo), she almost lost her Oji-Cree language. (LEFT) Members of the Oji-Cree team review some of their drafted Bible translation. They are (counter clockwise from upper left): Zipporah Mamakwa, Ruth Kitchekesik, Jessie Atlookan, Theresa Sainnawap and Dominick Beardy.

“The Bible teaching and the

teaching of hymns was a good

thing. . . .

It played a big part in

where I am today.”

During her time at Poplar Hill attending Grades 7 and 8, Lydia never felt abused. The staff were traditional Mennonites, including conservatively dressed female instructors who wore their hair in buns under small head coverings. “For the most part they were very nice. Only when you broke a rule did you get the strap,” she recalls. “It seems like some [residential] schools were more harsh than others. [But] I probably have more fond memories than bad.”

THE GOOD AND NOT SO GOOD

Lydia says girls at Poplar Hill were taught regular school subjects, as well as cooking, sewing and home nursing. But it was the Christian content she most appreciates, looking back now. It reinforced what she was taught by her parents, who were Anglicans with a strong faith in God. “The Bible teaching and the teaching of hymns was a good thing. They would have devotionals with us every evening. It played a big part in where I am today.” Negating this, however, students at Poplar Hill were prohibited from acknowledging their own culture. As a result, Lydia says she developed a mindset that European culture was superior, which was one of the federal government’s hopes for residential schools right from the beginning. “But it was not too many years ago that my mindset started

to change. I realized that God gave us our language, our own culture, our own way of life, and that is a gift. I began to understand what the elders were saying all this time. And from then on, I began to push that we use our mother tongue, to have it being first place in whatever we do.” The 60-year-old wife and mother of two grown children says Oji-Cree is now used in worship services at Kingfisher Lake, and God’s Word is steadily being translated for Bible readings in church. “The youth and others can better understand what

God is saying in the

Scriptures. . . .

People say that it makes it so

much clearer to understand the message, and what God is saying becomes so real.”

RUTH’S STORY

For Ruth, who went to Poplar Hill when she was 10 years old, some details about her residential school experience are foggy. “I don’t know why I don’t remember much,” says the 57-year-old. “Maybe I’m blocking some stuff.”

Ruth Kitchekesik takes a turn blessing her community over the airwaves of a local radio station in Kingfisher Lake, Ont. She translates on the spot into Oji-Cree some readings from a prayer book in a related Cree language, and the Daily Bread devotional booklet and Bible in English. As the Oji-Cree team continues to move forward with its work, there will be more of their own mother-tongue materials for these types of spiritual outreaches.

An Apology for Poplar Hill

R epresentatives of the administration and staff of

the agencies—Northern Light Gospel Mission and

Impact North Ministries—that operated Poplar

Hill Development School and two other residential schools, have issued an apology statement to former students. It apologizes for how:

we physically inflicted pain, or added to the pain

of your soul by our

 

.”

we underestimated or ignored the impact on you

of your separation from your

 

.”

our ignorance or negligence caused you to suffer

additional emotional and physical pain at the hands

of other

.”

school personnel were not properly screened,

and when personnel were not adequately trained to

relate to you in culturally appropriate

 

.”

we acted as though we were culturally superior

to

.”

we co-operated with the national plan to force

your assimilation into Canadian

 

.”

The statement concludes: “Please consider our apology and our sincere desire for a successful healing journey.”

WWW
WWW

To read the entire apology, visit www.lhnm.org/ truth-and-reconciliation/. A related article can be found at www.canadianmennonite.org/articles/

mending-sacred-hoop.

Ruth does know that a government man came to her family home at Kingfisher Lake. He pushed her parents to send an older brother to Poplar Hill, but her father resisted. He explained that he needed his son’s help at home. Ruth was sent instead. Upon arrival at Poplar Hill, Ruth remembers principals and teachers greeting her and other newcomers, and asking questions in English. She could answer “yes” or “no,” but could not carry on a conversation. Like Lydia, Ruth was made to put on a school dress. “There were a couple girls that were asked to look after me, to go change and wash up and all that,” recalls Ruth. “They made sure we were clean—I remember that. “They told me what I had to do, secretly, in my language.” The girls immediately warned Ruth not to speak Oji-Cree around teachers and made it clear she had to quickly learn English. Ruth applied herself to do just that. “I decided to go with the flow. There wasn’t much [else] I could do anyway.” Ruth recalls hearing from others that conditions at Poplar Hill may have been worse before her time there attending Grades 5 and 6. By the time she arrived, the failing residential

school program was on a downturn across Canada. Earlier, stricter conditions enforced by the government may have been changing. Like her older peer from Kingfisher Lake, Ruth fondly recalls the Bible teaching, hymn singing and practical instruction at Poplar Hill. “The good things were the Christian faith—and learning life skills. I think that was important. I don’t know if I would have

“I’m glad that I’m able to speak my language now. I know that I’m not going to lose it again.”

learned how to make a dress otherwise.” She remembers how proud she was having memorized the names of books in the Bible. “I had 100 per cent on the test.” But focusing on English took its toll on Ruth using her mother tongue. When Ruth was flown back to Kingfisher Lake for summer break, she struggled to speak Oji-Cree. “When I got off the plane, one of my older sisters came to meet me, and she hardly understands English. So, I tried to tell her, ‘There is one more box [of luggage] in there for me in the plane.’ I tried telling her and we couldn’t understand each other.” Ruth was able to converse with two other siblings who knew a little English. “But I couldn’t talk to my mother.”

A MOTIVATING PASSION

After returning and finishing another grade at Poplar Hill, Ruth’s time there ended. Her parents insisted she remain in Kingfisher Lake, where a new school had been built. “I was glad to be back home and that’s where I graduated from Grade 8.” As Ruth again immersed herself in Oji-Cree at home and during family trips into the bush, she fully regained her mother tongue. “I’m glad that I’m able to speak my language now. I know that I’m not going to lose it again.” Ruth and her husband—who she met at a Bible camp— never had children of their own, but are raising their niece’s sons, ages 16 and seven. The couple have taken the boys to bush camp, where they go each September. At their cabin, nearly 50 km north of Kingfisher Lake, they hunt and fish— and focus on speaking Oji-Cree. Ruth wants to see the language grow stronger through- out her entire community, which is why she is so dedicated to helping translate God’s Word. Up until recently, their church has been limited to using Scriptures in other types of Cree. “Our youth and children, they need to understand. If they go to church and they don’t understand the language, they get discouraged,” explains Ruth.

“We hear of other languages going extinct. We don’t want that to happen to us.” “There

“We hear of other languages going extinct. We don’t want that to happen to us.”

“There are younger people who are always having problems. Some go through a lot. I just hope that it [God’s Word] will help them to have a better life.” Lydia shares Ruth’s language passion. She is pleased that many children and grandchildren among the Oji-Cree still speak their mother tongue. And, unlike residential schools such as Poplar Hill, the school at Kingfisher Lake is making an effort to revitalize the community’s mother tongue among its students. “We hear of other languages going extinct,” Lydia says. “We don’t want that to happen to us.”

“We hear of other languages going extinct. We don’t want that to happen to us.” “There

Technology is pressing in on First Nations communities, such as Kingfisher Lake, Ont., increasing the influence of English among young people. The Oji-Cree Bible translation team believes that God’s Word in their community’s mother tongue will act as a way to boost the language’s use among young people, who also need the spiritual direction Scriptures can provide.

Library and Archives Canada

As translation of God’s Word into Oji-Cree marches on, a new generation of school students at Kingfisher Lake First Nation is learning to read their language’s syllabic writing system used in the Scripture translation. Several generations ago, this young girl may have been at a residential school, where her Oji-Cree language would have been prohibited entirely.

What Residential Schools Did to Aboriginal Languages

E ditor’s Note: The following are excerpts from Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015

Residential schools are a tragic part of Canada’s history. But they cannot simply be consigned to history. The legacy from the schools and the political and legal policies and mechanisms surrounding their history continue to this day. This is reflected in the significant educational, income, health, and social disparities

between Aboriginal people and other Canadians

. . .

the intense

racism some people harbour against Aboriginal people and in the

discrimination Aboriginal people regularly experience in this

. . . country. It is reflected too in the critically endangered status of most Aboriginal languages. Aboriginal languages are a “tangible emblem of group identity”

that can provide “the individual a sense of security and continuity

with the

past. . . .

Maintenance of the language and group identity

has both a social-emotional and a spiritual purpose.” Residential schools were a systematic, government-sponsored attempt to destroy Aboriginal cultures and languages and to

assimilate Aboriginal peoples so that they no longer existed as distinct peoples. English and, to a far lesser degree, French were the only languages permitted to be used in most schools. Students were punished—often severely—for speaking their own languages.

. . .

The United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous

Peoples

. . .

recognizes that “Indigenous peoples have the right

to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.” Many of the almost 90 surviving Aboriginal languages in Canada are under serious threat of extinction. In the 2011 census, 14.5 per cent of the Aboriginal population reported that their first language learned was an Aboriginal language. In the previous 2006 census, 18 per cent of those who identified as

Aboriginal had reported an Aboriginal language as their first

language learned, and a decade earlier, in the 1996 census, the figure was 26 per cent. This indicates nearly a 50 per cent drop in the 15 years since the last residential schools closed. If the preservation of Aboriginal languages does not become a priority both for governments and for Aboriginal communities, then what the residential schools failed to accomplish will come about through a process of systematic neglect. The Commission believes that a multi-pronged approach to

Aboriginal language preservation

. . .

will require full, good-

faith consultation, which recognizes that although Aboriginal communities have the necessary knowledge, particularly among their Elders, to preserve their own languages, additional support is needed.

CALLS TO ACTION

14) We call upon the federal government to enact an

Aboriginal Languages Act that incorporates the following

principles:

i. Aboriginal languages are a fundamental and valued element of Canadian culture and society, and there is an urgency to preserve them. ii. Aboriginal language rights are reinforced by the

treaties. . .

. iv. The preservation, revitalization, and strengthening of Aboriginal languages and cultures are best managed by Aboriginal people and communities.

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WWW

To read the entire report, visit www.trc.ca and click on “Executive Summary.”

Cree students and a teacher at the All Saints Indian Residential School, Lac La Ronge, Sask., 1945.

Dear Diary 26 Word Alive • Jan – Apr 2017 • wycliffe.ca What do they do

Dear Diary

26

Word Alive • Jan – Apr 2017 • wycliffe.ca

What do they do at a training workshop for First Nations mother- tongue translators?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

T hey’ve come thousands of kilometres, from sometimes iso- lated communities, spread all the way from Saskatchewan to Quebec. A dozen First Nations mother-tongue Bible

translators (MTTs) have gathered in a Christian retreat centre in Guelph, Ont. For five days, these First Nations men and women will receive training and encouragement from staff: Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz from Wycliffe; Ruth Heeg and Myles Leitch from the Canadian Bible Society (CBS), which is sponsoring this workshop; Meg Billingsley, a Wycliffe translation consultant in training; and Matt and Caitlin Windsor of Wycliffe, who are preparing to serve as translation project facilitators in a First Nation community. The goal for this Cree Initiative gathering is ultimately to help locally run translation projects move forward in four languages back home: Plains Cree, Woods Cree, Oji-Cree and Naskapi. It will be a busy week ahead, so after having mingled in the lounge this evening, participants settled into their rooms for a night of rest.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Everyone took their seats and fired up their laptops in one of the retreat centre’s meeting rooms. “It’s 9:30 and everybody’s here,” said Bill Jancewicz, who leads the workshop. “Praise the Lord.”

WWW
WWW

Listen to the workshop participants sing “Amazing Grace” in Plains Cree at wordalive.wycliffe.ca/stories/dear-diary.

Like several times daily this week, the group started by singing a hymn in one of the languages represented; this time it’s “Holy, Holy, Holy” in Naskapi. This morning’s devotional was based on verses in Gen. 2; John 1, and Ps. 8, read in the various languages of the MTTs here—if they have been translated. The MTTs heard that in Creation, God used language immediately to express His relationship to man, but even before Creation, there was language (“the Word”). Bill asked what these passages might indicate about the work the MTTs are doing. “It’s valued by the Creator,” answered Dolores Sand, one of two Plains Cree translators here. The MTTs introduced themselves, including Ruth Kitchekesik, a member of the Oji-Cree Bible translation team from northern Ontario. “I almost lost my language when I was 10 years old, when I came back from residential school,” she explained. “It took me some time to regain my language and that’s why it’s so important to be here. This translation is really helping us.” (See related story, pg. 16.) Bill led a session on the basics of Bible translation, reminding everyone that God wants to communicate with people in a language they can understand. This was shown by Jesus coming to live with mankind, ministering in a local culture and local language. Myles demonstrated the MegaVoice Scripture audio player, for which CBS is the distributor in Canada. He offered to load a few of the devices with translated Scriptures in several of the languages for testing by the MTTs in their communities.

(OPPOSITE) A highlight of the workshop for mother-tongue translators in Guelph, Ont., this past April was the visit of several Korean-Canadian church leaders interested in supporting First Nations Bible translation. After a large circle of prayer together on the fourth day of the workshop, Oji-Cree translator Zipporah Mamakwa gives a welcoming embrace to Han Na Ko from the Toronto Korean Presbyterian Church. (TOP) A well-known Bible verse written in Cree syllabics is taped to one of the laptops at the translators workshop—a reminder of the ultimate reason behind providing mother- tongue Scriptures. (ABOVE) Myles Leitch, director of Scripture translation for the Canadian Bible Society (a partner in the Cree Initiative), shows off the graphic novel “Good and Evil.” The chronological presentation of the Bible message could be published in various types of Cree to encourage engagement with God’s Word.

In a Bible translation principles session, Bill taught that translation has essentially two parts: determining the meaning in a source language and re-expressing it in a different language. For example, in Luke 13:31, Jesus describes Herod as a fox. This does not mean that he is a furry, four-legged animal, but that he is sly and crafty like that animal which uses stealth to find prey. The Naskapi translators said they used the actual word fox from their language in their Scriptures. But grinning team member Tshiueten Vachon wondered aloud if “wolverine” would have

“Jesus has the answer, God has the answer, the Scriptures have the answer.”

been better, because he heard an elder on the radio compare the government to that animal! The day ended with a translation checking time by the teams. Bill showed Sam Halkett, who is just starting a Woods Cree Bible translation effort, how to type syllabics used by Cree languages, on a standard computer keyboard.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bill shared this morning’s devotional based on Romans 15:4 (read

in several different Cree languages):

“. . .

through the endurance

taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” “We have been hearing a lot about hopeless First Nations communities,” said Bill, referring to a recent suicide watch in Attawapiskat near James Bay. “Jesus has the answer, God has the answer, the Scriptures have the answer.” Myles taught more Bible translation basics, this time focusing on a theory about communication processing effort, benefits and relevance. He said there is a tension in Bible translation between the text being so difficult that people stop engaging with it, or so easy that no effort is required of the readers at all, which can equally cause them to lose interest. For Scripture to be understood, Bible translators strive for readers to experience

enough benefits from it without having to make an unnecessary effort to process the information it contains. Guest lecturer Steve Kempf (a Wycliffe translation consultant) began a two-part session on how to deal with various types of names in Bible translation. For some names, the best approach might be to translate them into the target language, to express the meaning that the name has in Hebrew or Greek. But for other names, a translation team will decide either to borrow using English spellings, or to transliterate them (adapt them to conform to the rules of the lettering system in that language). In Naskapi, for example, Adam is transliterated as Atam (ᐊᑕᒻ). With thousands of names in the Bible, it is no easy task, prompting Oji-Cree translator Zipporah Mamakwa to quip:

“We’ll all have grey hair after we’re done translating!”

Myles presented another possible way for Cree speakers to engage with God’s Word, this time through a graphic novel called Good and Evil. The 330-page book is a chronological presentation of the Bible message. Myles asked if this paraphrased comic-book-style approach would be useful in Cree communities. Several workshop participants nodded their heads. Finishing the day, Bill led the group through the use of Paratext. This computer program is widely used by Bible translators to input their draft translations and review them on-screen with the aid of biblical source texts, various translations and helpful resource materials. The MTTs’ “oohs” and “hmms” showed that they learned some important new things. After supper, several carloads of MTTs went to shop at a mall, buying everything from jeans to athletic shoes. It was a special treat for those from isolated communities. “We don’t have stores like that,” explained Ruth Kitchekesik, as she and Oji-Cree colleagues carried shopping bags to their rooms.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Myles gave a sobering, but encouraging, devotional on the topic of suffering and spiritual warfare. The powers of darkness must absolutely hate Bible translators bringing the Word of God into

another language. “Because think about what we’re doing

. . we’re opening the doors of the Kingdom of Heaven through

.

the Scriptures,” he said. But “God has called us, He’s given us His

Spirit. We don’t have to be

afraid. . . .

May God give us all joy

and peace and discernment as we carry on this work that we are called to do.” CBS colleague Ruth Heeg led a lesson on Bible translation basics, this time about communicating with concepts, using examples of words in the Bible and in different Cree languages. “As translators,” she stressed, “we need to understand as far as we can what concept the Bible author was trying to communicate. And think

about how that can be best translated, best communicated, into the concepts and structures of the target language.” This afternoon Bill introduced the MTTs to a guide from SIL (Wycliffe's key partner organization) that helps groups plan what they want to do with their languages. He stressed that First Nation communities themselves—not outsiders—need to take ownership to direct and plan this. As an example, Bill pointed to the advanced Naskapi language project in Quebec, where he and wife Norma Jean served with local leaders. The Naskapi benefit from a published New Testament used in church and are now translating the Old Testament. Moreover, the Naskapi have also created a dictionary, a legends and stories project, a descriptive grammar of their mother tongue, children’s and adult literacy classes, etc. “This happened because people in your community cared,” said Bill to the Naskapi MTTs, before challenging all the teams. “You need to support each other in this kind of work. That’s part of the reason we meet like this.” Bill finished the day with an overview of how members of the Algonquian language family—which includes languages spoken by this workshop’s MTTs—are related. For example, very similar words for rabbit, wolf and knife, among other things, are found throughout Algonquian territory extending through the plains,

(TOP, LEFT) Wycliffe’s Bill Jancewicz, who leads the workshop, spends some one-on-one time with Rev. Sam
(TOP, LEFT) Wycliffe’s Bill Jancewicz, who leads the workshop, spends some one-on-one time with Rev. Sam
(TOP, LEFT) Wycliffe’s Bill Jancewicz, who leads the workshop, spends some one-on-one time with Rev. Sam

(TOP, LEFT) Wycliffe’s Bill Jancewicz, who leads the workshop, spends some one-on-one time with Rev. Sam Halkett, who is learning to type Woods Cree syllabics with a standard computer keyboard. (TOP, RIGHT) A Cree mother-tongue translator writes names for key persons in Scripture as part of an exercise during a presentation on dealing with types of

names in Bible translation, led by Wycliffe translation consultant Steve Kempf. (ABOVE) At day’s end, mother-tongue translators Dolores Sand (at computer) and Gayle Weenie review some Plains Cree Scripture translation with Ruth Heeg, project co-ordinator and translation consultant with the Canadian Bible Society.

central and eastern portions of Canada and the U.S. However, he stressed that while the Oji-Cree and Naskapi people, for example, can understand some of each other’s Scriptures, they cannot understand everything.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

As on previous days, the workshop today featured a devotional, singing (“Amazing Grace” in Plains Cree), a history lesson on Bible translation in North America’s Aboriginal languages, and more Bible translation training. But the highlight today was a visit by seven representatives of several Korean Christian churches from as far away as Edmonton. They were brought to the workshop by Daniel Yoon and Gyoojun Lee of Wycliffe Canada’s Korean ministries,

“You are my people. God loves you and He loves me.”

who say that increasing numbers of Korean churches are interested in partnering in ministry, including Bible translation, among First Nations. Canadian Korean Christians feel a connection to First Nations people for two reasons. First, speakers of Canada’s aboriginal languages are genetically related to people in northeast Asia, such as the Koreans. Second, like First Nations students at the notorious residential schools, Koreans were likewise prohibited from speaking their mother tongue by Japanese colonizers for 35 years. This affinity was made very plain by Kwon Choi, a deacon

from Antioch Church of Edmonton, as he introduced himself to the MTTs: “You are my people. God loves you and He

loves me. My goal, my vision is to worship together, for all the

people

. . .

all the nations, to worship together.”

The visiting Koreans asked the MTTs how they can pray for

them, their communities and their language work. The prayer request topics were sobering: social problems, addictions, suicide, illness, greater unity through Christ, healthy minds, bodies and souls for the youth, and more MTTs to advance translation.

WWW
WWW

See a video of this impassioned prayer time for the Cree Bible translators at wordalive.wycliffe.ca/stories/dear-diary.

Obviously moved by this, the Koreans wanted to pray immediately, forming a large circle with workshop

participants for sustained and emotional intercession. After their visit, the Koreans met to discuss next steps in supporting First Nations Bible translation efforts.

Friday, April 29, 2016

This half-day morning session was wrap-up time for the workshop before everyone headed their separate ways. Meg led devotions and Bill taught a bit more on Bible translation basics. The MTTs received certificates for participating in the workshop and they completed evaluations to improve future gatherings. Most importantly, they went home more encouraged, more equipped and more challenged to press forward in providing more of God’s Word in their people’s heart language.

central and eastern portions of Canada and the U.S. However, he stressed that while the Oji-Cree

Pray for the Cree Initiative

F or those of us who have God’s Word in our mother tongue, it is difficult to know what it is like to be without the Scriptures that give us a clear

knowledge of God, so we can truly love and serve Him as disciples. It took missionary effort for God’s truth to come to us, starting with the very first ambassadors of God, such as the Apostle Paul. From the beginning, that enterprise involved prayer by those who knew the gospel for those who were spreading it. As Paul writes to the church that he

founded in Thessalonica,

“. . .

brothers and sisters,

pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread

rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you” (2 Thess 3:3 NIV). The message of the Lord is rooted in God’s Word, but many groups still need this translated into their mother tongue, their heart languages. This is true for First Nations communities right here in Canada, including the five related Cree languages of the Cree Initiative featured in this magazine.

Those involved in this important effort need your prayers:

For the health and well-being of the Cree mother-tongue translators and their families.

For funding to pay for relatively expensive project-related travel into and out of the isolated northern Cree communities.

For the next mother-tongue translator workshop (April 2017) —for the right staffing, the choice of the right First Nations participants, for the details of the workshop contents, for travel funds and safety, and effective instruction.

For co-operation and unity between translation team members, facilitators, and other stakeholders in Bible translation agencies.

For open doors in other First Nations communities in Canada where there is still the need and desire to start their own Bible translations, and for God's guidance and wisdom to meet those needs.

For adequate financial support for Wycliffe staff already called to serve in these communities, and for God to continue to lead more support staff to meet current and future needs.

For God's wisdom and guidance to allocate finances and staff at the right time to the right project.

Translation Update:

God Speaks Directly to Us

Three New Testaments and one Bible completed with Canadian involvement.

By Janet Seever

  • I n May and June 2016, the Paama and Southeast Ambrym people—who live on the beautiful Pacific islands of Vanuatu—received God’s translated Word in

their own languages. After 15 years of work, they now have the full New Testament, along with selected portions of the Old Testament. The Bible dedications also included much of the two translations in audio form. Wycliffe Canada members Leigh and Barbara Labrecque began serving as translation advisers in 2001, intending to work on only the Paama language, but ended up working on the related language of Southeast Ambrym as well. The Paama and Southeast Ambrym people are primarily located in four locations, with several thousand language speakers in each place. For that reason, four dedications were held between May 15 and June 5. Guests at the dedications included other colleagues from SIL (Wycliffe’s

key partner organization), plus government, church and village chief representatives from the two language groups. “The most exciting thing for me,” says Leigh, “was watching the Paama and Southeast Ambrym people come up and joyfully receive their printed Bibles and audio Bible players. Tears came to my eyes as I saw them go, one by one, sit down and begin to read or listen to God speaking to them through His Word.” Southeast Ambrym-speaker Chief Rueben, who greatly values God’s translated Word, said, “In the colonial days, we learned about God in English or French. He was very distant. Then, after our country gained independence, we began learning more about God through the national pidgin trade language. But today, as we come together to dedicate the Bible in our own languages, God speaks to us directly in our own language.” Following the dedications, Leigh led nine Scripture-use training seminars in various locations on Paama and Southeast Ambrym Islands. Many people eagerly came to learn how to use God’s Word. During the seminars, people practised reading their Bibles, learned to use the glossary, discovered several significant events on two Bible timelines, and saw how to use cross references to let Scripture interpret itself. Following one of the dedications, Leigh recalls being deeply impacted.

Casey Ellis Photo

Several Ambrym women in Vanuatu eagerly begin using just-published Scriptures in their mother tongue.

“In Santo, a place I had only visited once before, a Paama man met me at the airport and said that he was so touched at the dedication ceremony that he felt God prompting him to come and tell me thank you, give me a gift, and speak a blessing on me. “Wow! I’m truly blessed.”

HEARING JESUS’ WORDS

The Bunong* New Testament in Asia was dedicated in late May. It was an incredible event for those who had worked so hard to produce this book. In a beautiful procession, two young people held the New Testament and were followed by church leaders, villagers and guests. During the celebration, Bunong people gave testimonies about how the New Testament has impacted them. Several had been struggling to comprehend Scripture in the national language, but now they can hear Jesus’ words in their mother tongue. Todd and Becky, translation facilitators from the U.S., commented on the foreign guests from the U.K., Germany, Australia and the U.S. “These precious people have stood alongside us and our colleagues, faithfully praying and giving over the past 14-plus years!” they wrote. “What a privilege to see a display of God’s worldwide family gathered to rejoice with a group of people in [Asia] receiving God’s message of hope.” The Bunong language is spoken by 140,000 people in

two countries. The translation consultants for this project are Canadians, who are also working in other sensitive Asian projects. Of the 2,300 New Testaments printed, 300 were air- freighted ahead of the main shipment and were available at the dedication. About 200 were sold at that event. It is hoped that the audio versions of translated Scriptures on mp3 players will also have great impact. The Bunong people are crafting new songs of praise in their own traditional musical style.

GOD’S WORD FOR THE LENTOMI*

In September 2016, the first copies of the full Bible in the Lentomi language of Asia came off the printing press. The finalized text of both the Old and New Testaments, together with supplemental study material, totalled 1,968 pages. This was the culmination of efforts by many people over the past 22 years. Lentomi speakers number roughly 25 million and by cultural background are Muslim. They have long been one of the largest ethnic groups in the world without a full Bible in their language. In 1992 the New Testament, Genesis and Psalms were released in one volume. Two years later, a new project to translate the entire Old Testament got underway with the involvement of personnel from SIL and other agencies. Later the New Testament was revised with the help of Andy, a Canadian who joined the team in 2007. Interest in the complete Lentomi Scriptures was so great that in 2013, the publisher took the unusual step of releasing on its website a provisional version of all 66 books of the Bible. In late 2014, it was reported that in the preceding year more than 45,000 portions of the Lentomi Scriptures had been downloaded from

the Internet, including an average of 24 full Bibles every day. Government permission is needed for the importing and distributing of the newly printed Lentomi

Bible in the country where most Lentomi speakers live. Plans to professionally produce an audio version

depend largely on the Bible’s legal status, so official

approval of the publication is crucial.

God has already been using the Scriptures in the

Lentomi language to communicate the message of His

love. Though a very small percentage of the Lentomi

population, the number of Jesus-followers is now likely

in the tens of thousands, and is growing in the midst

of considerable opposition and pressure.

One Lentomi speaker wrote, “Though it is possible to

learn a foreign language fairly well, still one’s mother tongue is the one language which speaks to the heart

and can deeply move. It transforms the message from

something foreign to familiar.

“I am looking forward to reading and studying the

Word of God in this translation, and will eagerly wait to

see how our Lord will use it to build up the Lentomi for

many years to come.”

“In Santo, a place I had only visited once before, a Paama man met me at

* Pseudonyms used due to sensitivity

World Translation Summary 2016

This past year, Scriptures translated with Wycliffe involvement were published in 19 languages spoken by more than 3.5 million people. The table below gives a regional breakdown of the affected language groups with their populations.

 

NUMBER OF

COMBINED TOTAL

LOCATION

GROUPS

POPULATIONS

NEW TESTAMENTS

   

Africa

  • 7 734,600

 

Asia

  • 3 2,050,240

 

Pacific

  • 4 18,380

 

Americas

  • 2 8,730

 

TOTAL NEW

   

TESTAMENTS

16

2,811,950

WHOLE BIBLES

   

Africa

  • 2 139,500

 

Americas

  • 1 567,840

 

TOTAL BIBLES

  • 3 707,340

 

COMBINED TOTALS

19

3,519,290

Beyond Words

Naturally, it’s Better

By Danny Foster

Beyond Words Naturally, it’s Better By Danny Foster H ave you ever purchased a new product

H ave you ever

purchased a new

product and found

the instructions to

be a little humorous? I have

a very specialized charger for repowering all kinds of batteries. The imported product came with the following warning: “Do not attempt to disassemble

the battery pack arbitrarily.” I chuckled and thought to myself, Look guys, I promise, if I take this thing apart I’ll make sure I have a good reason to do so!

Funny English instructions are usually the result of poor translation work that happens because English is not the dominant language for the product manufacturers. And it’s not just English that suffers. Problems happen all the time when people underestimate the challenges of moving between any two languages, especially when they lack proficiency in one of them. In this series on the qualities of good Bible translation, I’ve covered accuracy and clarity. This time I want to talk about naturalness. The English instructions that came with my battery charger are both accurate and clear. I have been able to read through the entire manual and successfully use the product. My laughter (and sometimes confusion) when reading it, however, can be attributed to its lack of naturalness in my particular dialect of English. A translation that is natural expresses things in a way that people typically express them in the target language. Accuracy addresses the question, “Is all the information there?” Clarity addresses the question, “Is this understandable?” Naturalness addresses the question, “Is this the way people say things?” Naturalness is the most difficult part of learning a new language. It’s also the easiest thing for novice translators to mess up, because they tend to translate word-for- word. The following are a just a few of the things that we need to watch for. First, idioms can rarely be translated word-for-word. In Romans 12:20, Paul echoes the Hebrew idiom found in Proverbs 25:22, “heap burning coals on his head. ”I can only assume his Greek audience understood it well. But more than 2,000 years later, the Hebrew idiom lives on in most of our English Bibles. I strongly doubt that many people today, especially those with no church background, would understand it. On the other side of the coin, sometimes something that is not idiomatic can be translated far better by introducing an idiom. In

Mark 13:33, Jesus tells us to “be watchful,” and this comes out beautifully in my Swahili Bible as equivalent to “be eyes”—a vivid and far more natural Swahili expression to communicate being on your guard. Second, some words just seem to go together. In linguistic study we call it collocation. For example, “keep” and “commandments” work well together. All throughout Scripture we are exhorted to “keep the commandments,” but commandments are not something that can be “kept” in every language. It’s just not natural to say it that way. In many languages it is far more natural to say “obey” rather than “keep.” Third, it’s not uncommon to discover that languages assign a natural ordering of certain words. Consider English phrases like “up and down,” “ladies and gentlemen,” “over and out” or “bread and butter.” It’s oddly hilarious to a native English speaker

A translation that is natural

. . speaks to people in the way that

.

they themselves speak. God doesn’t sound foreign.

if you reverse them and say “down and up,” “gentlemen and ladies,” “out and over” or “butter and bread”! And yet in other languages, it would be totally natural to say them that way. Or, perhaps the order may not matter at all. Making a translation natural

means paying attention to these and many other small aspects of language structure. Getting it wrong can be disastrous in Bible translation. Imagine someone reacting to God’s Word in the same way you might react to those poorly translated instructions—laughing, confused or even angered. A translation that is natural is not stilted. It speaks to people in the way that they themselves speak. Most importantly, God doesn’t sound foreign.

Beyond Words Naturally, it’s Better By Danny Foster H ave you ever purchased a new product

Danny Foster is president of the Canada Institute of Linguistics (CanIL), a partner of Wycliffe Canada that trains personnel to serve in language projects, including Bible translation. CanIL operates at Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C., and Tyndale University College and Seminary in Toronto, Ont.

A Thousand Words

Moose Mentorship

A crowd of curious Oji-Cree youngsters watches carefully—and eventually some of them ask to help—as an
A crowd of curious Oji-Cree youngsters
watches carefully—and eventually
some of them ask to help—as an
elder cuts up moose meat from the autumn

Photograph by Natasha Ramírez

hunting season at Kingfisher Lake, Ont. It is traditional practices such as this that are handed down from one generation to another among First Nations peoples. The older generation among several Cree communities in Canada is hopeful that their traditional heart languages will be sustained and love for God strengthened, thanks to the Cree Initiative Bible translation project.

Illustration by Anita Ho

Last Word

Bible translation is Essential for First Nations

By Roy Eyre, Wycliffe Canada President

Illustration by Anita Ho Last Word Bible translation is Essential for First Nations By Roy Eyre,

H ow did we come to this point? How can it be that another First Nations community declared a state of emergency because of

suicides among its young people? Over the past couple of years, such tragedies have entered the national conversation. Fortunately, our government is attempting to address underlying issues affecting Aboriginal people in Canada. In June, Prime Minister Trudeau met with First Nations leaders to discuss the suicide epidemic. He concluded that the key to lowering the rate of First Nations young people taking their own lives was the restoration of indigenous languages: “This is something that we know is essential. As an indicator of pride and identity, belonging and culture, indigenous languages are essential.” And in early December, Trudeau announced that his government will introduce an indigenous languages act to preserve, protect and revitalize Aboriginal languages. This past March, at a meeting in Toronto on First Nations Bible translation needs, I met with some mother-tongue translators from the Plains Cree and Oji-Cree Bible translation teams. Their comments broke my heart: "I almost lost my language" and "Our generation is blaming the Church for losing their language and culture." The broader Canadian Church needs to enter this dialogue. When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission offered their 94 calls to action in 2015, several were targeted at Canada’s faith community. Christians struggle to know how to respond to the

tragic legacy of residential schools, which were the product of a partnership between the Canadian government and mostly large mainline church denominations. We like to pigeonhole the fallout of these institutions as something limited to the deeds of a handful of denominations. But some of these schools were operated by those affiliated with non-mainline churches. Mark MacDonald, national indigenous bishop for the Anglican Church of Canada, pulls no punches: "The mission of the Church had been to suppress our cultures." No Christian in Canada can hide from the guilt of cultural annihilation. History rides on all of our backs; it impairs current relations with our First Nation brothers and sisters, and it blocks future healing. On the first evening of the Toronto meeting, Bishop MacDonald followed up his blunt negative assessment about the past mission of the church with more hopeful words:

“Translation is absolutely essential for our

communities. . .

.

It is the incarnation of the Word of God into our lives and

communities. We are on a trajectory of hope; we are on a trajectory of justice; we are on a trajectory of salvation. I don’t

think that there is anything you can do today that is as critical as the work of Bible translation for the First Nations communities.” We don’t often think of it this way, but Bible translation is relevant to the poverty cycle, the deep wounds and the hopelessness common among First Nations people. Wycliffe’s

"Wycliffe’s work is relevant to a government struggling to take on the significant challenges of national reconciliation and justice for those they once oppressed."

work is relevant to a government struggling to take on the significant challenges of national reconciliation and justice for those they once oppressed. Our work is also relevant to a Canadian Church embarrassed by its role in a cultural genocide that continued into our generation. We have something to offer, as the stories in this magazine show. The Plains Cree and Oji-Cree men and women I met recognize that real hope and real solutions will not come from political actions alone. Each one is taking steps to pursue reconciliation, speak in schools, lead in the church and work to see God’s Word expressed clearly in their own language and culture. Addressing foundational issues brings real, systemic restoration. That's where you and I can play a role, because Wycliffe's ministries tackle root causes.

Illustration by Anita Ho Last Word Bible translation is Essential for First Nations By Roy Eyre,

Deliver to:

PM 40062756

Wycliffe Canada Featured Partnership

Invest in the Cree Initiative

Y ou can help propel translation of God’s Word

for more than 100,000 people located across

much of Canada, through your gift to this project

(featured in this issue of Word Alive). Here are the basic

details of this important Bible translation partnership, which you can support through Wycliffe Canada.

Name: Cree Initiative Location: Canada

Language Groups: Initially five related Cree groups

Overview: Speakers in these languages are hindered by a lack of Scriptures that they can clearly understand. God’s Word needs to speak to their hearts, which is critical for their spiritual well-being. The project is building capacity for local First Nations people to do their own Bible translation and promote use of God’s Word in their heart language, which they have identified as a priority at the grass roots level. To accomplish this, Wycliffe staff, along with key Bible agency partners, provide training and support to mother-tongue translators in each language community. Your donations will be used for salaries, equipment and travel for mother-tongue translators serving their own people.

Timeline: Now – 2024 Funding Need: $113,600

Your donation today helps spread God’s Word through this project!

Use this magazine’s reply form (fill in the section that mentions Cree Initiative).

Give online at cree.wycliffe.ca.

Call 1-800-463-1143 toll free and indicate your gift is for “Cree Initiative.”

Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada Inc. is a registered charity: #10822 3371 RR0001.

Photograph by Natasha Ramírez
Photograph by Natasha Ramírez

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