Métis in British Columbia will have increased access to oral Michif recorded resources with the launch of In the Words of Our Elders project (IWOE), a new Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) Michif revitalization initiative. The project will bring the voices of Elders and Knowledge Carriers to Métis communities across the province through a series of 12 thirty minute recorded segments on learnmichif.com. Videos will be produced on a schedule of two videos per four-week period with an expected completion date of August 31, 2021. Michif language lesson topics will include a laundry activity, poppy pin making activity, beading activity, making tea activity, story telling activity, vegetable garden activity, family song activity, bannock making activity, Michif bingo playing activity, sash weaving bookmark activity, grocery list activity, and card games activity.
“The Michif language was once common in Métis communities across Canada. Now, it is considered an endangered language with fewer than 1,000 speakers,” said Shaughn Davoren, MNBC Minister of Youth. “IWOE will give thousands of youth across B.C. the opportunity to learn the language of our ancestors.”
MNBC will record a series of videos with Elder and Michif speaker Verna DeMontigny, apprentice Michif speaker Elvis DeMontigny, and Michif speaker Heather Souter, in which viewers can practice speaking Michif as they watch. The project will provide Michif-language content to the thousands of Métis who have grown up with little access to resources in their native language.
“Engaging youth in our communities is critical in ensuring that the Michif language lives on,” said Briana Greer, Youth Representative for Region 6 and Vice-President of MYBC. “Having these resources will allow our communities to engage more young Métis and we look forward to seeing them in use.”
“Preserving the Michif language, and the spoken words of Elders, remains a vital aim of MNBC,” said Patrick Harriott, Minister of Culture, Language and Heritage. “The struggle to preserve our Michif language is at a critical stage. Given that the greatest resource we have to achieve this task is our Elders, we must redouble our efforts to connect with them and provide language resources to youth and communities across B.C., so we can preserve our heritage.”
In the Words of Our Elders is being funded by grants from B.C.’s Civil Forfeiture Office through the Indigenous Healing and Rebuilding Stream.