Over time, colonialism attempted to stamp out Indigenous culture in Canada, resulting in dwindling numbers or extinction of many Indigenous languages. Of the over 60 Indigenous languages in Canada, many of them have very few speakers left, or are considered on the verge of extinction.
Because of this, merely speaking an Indigenous language can be seen as a political act.
Can you speak your traditional language?
Cree is the most widely spoken Indigenous language in Canada. It belongs to the Algonquian language family and a number of dialect groups: Plains, Woods, Swampy, Moose, Northern East Cree, Southern East Cree, Naskapi, Atikamekw and Montagnais.
The following are some resources to help you learn the Cree language or improve your skills:
Cree Literacy Network: This site contains beginner audio and video lessons of the different dialects of Cree, as well as a Cree radio network, book lists and textbook excerpts. The Literacy Network also has resources for understanding the Standard Roman Orthography of Cree language sounds, and other handy resources (Cree calendar templates, labels for kitchen items with phonetic pronunciations, and translations of children’s songs).
Our Languages: Choose from Swampy, Woodland or Plains Cree dialects. “Common terms and phrases” has illustrations and audio pronunciations to understand everyday phrases in Cree. This site also contains a grammar guide and a tool to understand the Cree sound system.
First Language Speaking Resource: These YouTube playlists include pronunciation of simple phrases and words in Swampy, Woods, and Plains Cree.
How to Say it in Cree: This tool, created by Cree language expert Solomon Ratt, helps with pronunciation rules, sentence structure and translation of short phrases. You can download the pdf to fill in the blanks that correspond with each lesson.
Online Cree Dictionary: The Cree Dictionary is an interactive First Nations language portal with the capability to translate words into Cree syllabics or Roman orthography, and back to English again. The dictionary also has audio and video clips for pronunciation support and tools to help understand Cree grammar. In addition, the dictionary covers multiple Cree dialects.
Learn Cree in University:
Do you know, or have you used, any other resources to learn Cree? Let us know in the comments!