Tgu dzipdzaba apels; Peel the apples

Farmers, fishermen, hunters. We all follow the weather. Closely.

This year on our farm, we had a bumper crop of apples. We are attributing it to the many affects of climate change. We had thought the drought through the summer might impact our harvest. But the warm weather and lack of rain swung us the other way. Sooooo many apples.

It was time to Tgu dzipdzaba apels – to peel the apples.

When we have things that have been imported into our territory, sometimes our word is similar to the language of the person who brought it – with a smalgyax flourish of course. In this instance “apples” become “apels”.

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We had started our season by taking our first harvest to a local apple press. They UV pasteurize it and we freeze it in cartons. This year, we took a truckload and we knew we were going to have twice as much yet to come. Truth be told. I still have a fridge dedicated to their storage and a freezer full of pressed juice.

We decided with this many apples we would need to press our own. Now apple pressing can be hard work with a traditional press. After some YouTube research by my father in law and a very nifty example of a home press made out of a washing machine, we decided we could fashion something of our own. Ours would be built from a new and dedicated motor originally designed as a garborator and a hydraulic home-made press.

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First step was to wash all the apples thoroughly and then remove blemishes and the cores. You don’t actually have to remove the cores. There is some school of thought that the seeds have a level of cyanide might pose a risk at a high enough quantity. I don’t think the commercial presses remove the seeds and it’s actually the same compound that gives almonds their lovely taste, such as found in almond extract. But better safe than sorry.

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We then guided them through the machine to crush them.

The pulp was then fed into our press, which is mostly a net, a bucket with holes, a press and patience.

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The results were DELICIOUS.
I cannot describe the serious taste extravaganza that you are seeing photographed here. If there was a word to describe a the taste, it would be fresh.

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It doesn’t look like it changes the world in a big way. But these apples have been tended by our family, now by three generations. They have been handpicked and pressed with our own hands. It’s food security, that tastes like home. It feels like it feeds your soul. It feels similar to when we put away fish, moose meat, medicines. We feel a part of the world around us in a way that is reciprocal and respectful.

So yes, it’s just apple juice. But it’s also time with our family, on our land, harvested and pressed by us together. It’s pretty much everything.

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 – Jessica Wood

‘Dehcho Dene Zhatié: Indigenous Language Revitalization Program

I’m beyond thrilled to finally have a piece written up and presented to Tea and Bannock about a very special and hardworking group of Deh Cho Ladies who are involved with the ‘Dehcho Dene Zhatié: Indigenous Language Revitalization Program.

I hold this program close to my heart because firstly I saw firsthand how they have been working day and often very late nights on reclaiming their language, taking in as many Dene Zhatié words and phrases, reclaiming their space and identity as a dene person– here is a group of fearless women who are dedicated and determined to revive their mother tongue to teach their children, siblings and others who are interested. I can’t help but to feel excited and extremely proud of these ladies.

I reached out to Dahti Tsetso who is from Fort Simpson and asked if she wanted to explain who she is, why it’s important for her to attend the Indigenous Language Revitalization program and what it’s all about. Thankfully she agreed and I managed to get my mother, Joyce McLeod (who is also in the program), to send me photos to add to the blog. Thank you both (as well to the others involved) for being so brave to save such an important part of the Dene culture. I commend you for all being such trailblazers for our Dene communities!

You can find a lot of great information and videos on their facebook page called “Speak to me in Dene Zhatie.”

– shawna mcleod

{cover imageDene Zhatie Mentor Louisa Moreau teaching Joyce McLeod, Dahti Tsetso, Nicole Perron, Terri Sapp, and Leonie Sabourin Dene Zhatié phrases as they fry bannock.}

 

 

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First presentation on learning Dehcho Dene Zhatie. Everyone was required to come up with phrases and present it to the class; almost everyone was nervously shaking and scared to make mistakes.

Dahti Tsetso súzhe. Sı́ Tłıcho Dene o’tę gots’ęh Łíidlii Kų́ę́ náhnde. My name is Dahti Tsetso. I am Tłicho Dene and I live in Fort Simpson, NT. I was born here and spent my early childhood growing up by the river. I met my husband while attendıng university and am now married into the Dehcho region. The Dehcho is our home and this is where we plan to raise our family.

Practicing our Dene culture and passing the culture on to our children is very important to us. However, like so many others of our generation, neither one of us speak our Dene language. Language loss is an intergenerational impact of residential schools that has had a massive impact. The legacy of residential schools has denied almost a whole generation of Dene the ability to speak their own language. This means many of us could not communıcate with our unilingual grandparents. We could never listen to their stories, or learn our oral histories in our language. A Dene person without their language is missing a very key part of their cultural identity. And personally, it has left me feeling confused and at times disconnected from my own family and culture.

This is why learning to speak the language is such an important endeavour; for me, it has become an act of reconciliation. Learning the language empowers us to connect to our culture and elders in ways that are deeply meaningful, but it is also vital for the well being of our communities as whole. Our language is at a critical point in history. As our parents’ generation ages, the number of fluent language speakers is declining. This means that if we do not reverse this trend, we risk facing a reality that one day there will be no fluent speakers left.

Learning to speak the Dene language has been a long-held and deeply rooted goal of mine. My hope is to become fluent in the language, and to share what I learned with others. My dream is to see my children conversing in the language with their grandparents one day. I want them to learn their oral histories while immersed in the language of this land. This is why I chose to enrol in the ‘Dehcho Dene Zhatié: Indigenous Language Revitalization Program’.

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Learning nouns, verbs and incorporating into simple phrases while Cooking and sewing in Dene Zhatié- Nicole Perron, Lori Anne Bertrand and Terri Sapp learning to make muffins with Denise, Dene Zhatié Mentor.

The ‘Dehcho Dene Zhatié: Indigenous Language Revitalization Program’ is a University of Victoria post-secondary program that is being community-delivered in partnership with Dehcho First Nations, the Dehcho Divisional Education Council and the communities of Fort Providence and Fort Simpson. The goal of this language program is to create new language speakers and teachers of Dehcho Dene Zhatié.

All fluency levels was accepted into the program, so there is a wide range of language ability. From new language learners (like myself) to those whom Dene Zhatié is their first language. There are also diverse backgrounds in our program. While the majority are Dehcho Dene, I am Tlicho Dene, there is one Cree student (also married into the Dehcho region), and one very special non-Dene member.

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The DDEC board visits the Dehcho Dene Zhatié: Indigenous Language Revitalization Program’ in Fort Providence

The language program has taught each of us how to begin our own language-learning journeys, and perhaps even more importantly, it has taught us how to share what we learn with others. The program has done this by teaching us a language immersion method known as the ‘Mentor-Apprentice-Program’ (or MAP for short), and by learning language writing and literacy from highly trained language specialists from our region. Andy Norwegian and Violet Jumbo have been instrumental in teaching the language in our program. Their wealth of experience and knowledge is humbling, and our cohort is continuously grateful for their teachings.

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Indigenous Language Mentorship course – Belinda Sabourin, Leonie Sabourin, and Instructor Trish R. – Sewing Demonstration – learning Dene Zhatié words and phrases – needle, thread, embroidery, stroud, etc.

Personally, I have experienced exciting and empowering language growth since the start of this language program. Before this program I had difficulty even counting from 1-10, or greeting someone properly in the language. Like most children I knew some basic colours, a few animal names, and a few basic commands (like “calm down” or “eat” – the common phrases often expressed to children). And while I took evening classes whenever the opportunity arose, I did not retain meaningful language from those lessons for the long-term.

After almost two years in this program and 400 MAP hours, I can now have short and simple conversations in the language. I can pick out bits of fluent conversation between fluent speakers and can work to understand the gist of their conversations. Without regular practice I risk losing my language gains. Time invested in immersion is the key to achieving language progress. I am still not near fluent yet, but I’ve taken steps towards my goal and that is an amazing feeling!

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Group photo at Telemia Camp – Nicole Perron, Terry Sapp, Cecile Deneyoua, Patricia Bouiver, Gracyn Tanche, Dahti Tsetso, Trish R, Evelyn Sabourin, Kim Hardisty, Joyce McLeod, Nimisha Bastesdo, Beverly Hope, Leonie Sabourin & Jonas Landry (who has completed the program already) Missing from photo: Cheryl Cli, Belinda Constant

A major factor in my language journey so far, and one of the program’s biggest strengths is the group identity that has been fostered by the program. I have not done this as an individual, but as a member of a cohort.

Collectively, we are thirteen strong-minded women. We learn alongside each other; supporting and encouraging each other as we go. We have experienced this program and the empowerment it has brought to our lives together. We have borne witness to each other’s growth.

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Students of the ‘Dehcho Dene Zhatié: Indigenous Language Revitalization Program spent a week learning at The Telemia Camp outside of Fort Providence.

There are just six months left in this language program: some of us will choose to continue on and pursue a Bachelors degree in order to become fully certified elementary and secondary school teachers. Some of us will be satisfied to finish in April 2016 with a Diploma in this program. Whatever each one us decides to pursue, the end of this program is just over the horizon, and we will each hold our own responsibility to continue on in our language journeys. I am both thankful and hopeful for the road ahead.

Sedzée t’áh máhsi enéhthę. Łı́e dzęne, nezų Dene K’ę́ę́ gohndeh gha. Azhíi dúyé enéhthę! Mahsi dúyé!

[With my heart I am thankful. One day I will speak well in the language. Anything is possible for me! I am very thankful!].

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While at the Telemia Camp, the students learned how to traditionally tan a hide while only using Dene Zhatié words and phrase – scrapping, holes, hard surface, scrapper, etc.

In closing, I will leave you with an oath to learning Dene Zhatié. As a cohort we chose to adopt this oath and I hope that in reading this some of you might be inspired to do that same…

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The Place Where My Spirit Breathes

maskéko-sákahikanihk.

This summer, I took a four day intensive néhiyawéwin class. I’m learning my language, slowly. This class was the beginning of a commitment to push myself further towards this goal.

I live in Ottawa now, but I’m a prairie girl through and through. Going back home is a necessity in staying grounded and connected to what calms my soul. The language is in the land, in the vast prairie skies, the water. nipiy. my veins.

Don’t bother writing the words down. Just listen. You’ll remember.

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péyak. níso. nisto.

I’m in kindergarten, my favourite class is Cree class. We learn numbers, greetings, animals. Those words come flooding back in my memory.

I’m grateful to the educators that provided us with the opportunity to be exposed to our language and culture.

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Thirty years later, the class is full of eager students willing to learn néhiyawéwin. The instructors are passionate about passing on the language. It’s a beautiful and safe environment to learn and make mistakes.

Living thousands of kilometers away from my home, I have to make an effort to practice and hear the language, so I don’t forget again.

When discussing the struggles I’m having with this distance, one of my classmates told me that home is “the place where your spirit breathes”. He was right.

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58th Annual June Sports

This Father’s Day weekend the ‘Namgis First Nation is hosting the 58th Annual June Sports here in Alert Bay, BC, and this little island is super busy! Okay, it isn’t exactly bumper to bumper traffic, but there is noticeably a lot more visitors and families here for the weekend. There are lots of people walking around in their team jerseys, little kids kicking soccer balls in emulation of their big brothers and sisters, and elders watching from the side lines.

On Thursday night, the event started with the 29th Annual Salmon Prince & 58th Annual Salmon Princess Pageant. The pageant is an opportunity for Kwakwaka’wakw youth between the ages of 12-18 years old to demonstrate their pride and cultural knowledge. The contestants stood together in the Big House, and were each judged on their oral presentation and sharing of a song, dance or legend. And each contestant was given extra points for being able to speak in Kwakwala.   

I was raised with such shame around my Indigenous ancestry, and I do not want to pass that shame on to the next generation. I always remind my children to be proud of who they are and where they come from. Even though we are living away from the territory where we come from, we have our own ways of sharing our knowledge with our boys. As a half breed from Saskatchewan, I am honoured to be here raising my children together with these proud Kwakwaka’wakw kids. I am constantly inspired by the youth and children in this community, and on Thursday evening at the pageant I was blown away by the courage of the youth to present themselves in front of hundreds of people in the Big House. Their families and teachers have done well. Oh, and to the young girl who was braiding my hair while I watched the pageant, thank you!

2015 Salmon Prince, Jakob Dawson and Salmon Princess, Shantal Cook.

2015 Salmon Prince, Jakob Dawson and Salmon Princess, Shantal Cook.

Junior Salmon Princess is Hanna Speck.

Junior Salmon Princess is Hanna Speck.

Junior Salmon Prince is Jul

Junior Salmon Prince is Julian Bruce.

Contestant Naomi Triebwasser.

Contestant Naomi Triebwasser.

Contestant Tanisha Williams.

Contestant Tanisha Williams.

Contestant Laura Bullock who is Tanisha's older sister.

Contestant Laura Bullock who is Tanisha’s older sister.

2016 Salmon Princess is Danielle Barnes.

2016 Salmon Princess is Danielle Barnes.

Contestant Dante Willie.

Contestant Dante Willie.

2016 Salmon Prince is Big Boy aka Shane Cook.

2016 Salmon Prince is Big Boy aka Shane Cook.

Helpers, mentors and teachers; Alexis, Pewi and Lauren.

Helpers, mentors and teachers; Alexis, Pewi and Lauren.

Young and younger singers at the log.

Young and younger singers at the log.

Naomi sharing a traditional dance.

Naomi sharing a traditional dance that she was recently handed at the Nolie potlatch.

Laura sharing a traditional ladies dance.

Laura sharing a traditional ladies dance.

Danielle giving a short explanation of the dance she is going to share.

Danielle giving a short explanation of the dance she is going to share.

Tanisha sharing a traditional Kwakwaka'wakw dance.

Tanisha sharing a traditional Kwakwaka’wakw dance.

Shane sharing his favourite dane the Hamatsa.

Shane sharing his favourite dance the Hamatsa.

Dante sharing a tradiitonal Kwakwaka'wakw dance.

Dante sharing a traditional Kwakwaka’wakw dance.

The retiring Salmon Princess and Prince, all candidates and Junior Salmon Prince and Prince dance to a song during the blanket dance. The money raised from the blanket goes towards a scholarship fund for each successful candidate.

The retiring Salmon Princess and Prince, all candidates and Junior Salmon Prince and Princess dance to a song during the blanket dance. The money raised from the blanket goes towards a scholarship fund for each successful candidate.

-Amanda Laliberte

Never Too Old to Learn Your Language

I remember being in University and my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I were talking about how we wanted to learn our Cree language. About how cool it would be if we could speak fluent in in. At the time we had felt like our language was dying. I was scared that it would be lost and that it was important for us to know it if we want our children to learn it it. Thus began our (long) journey to becoming Cree speaking people.

It’s easy to say “I want to speak *insert language*!” So easy. The hard part is actually doing it (which goes for many things in life, funnily enough). Because we weren’t near any fluent speakers while in University, we needed to get creative with how we were going to force ourselves to learn it. One word a day. That was our goal, learning one new word a day and using the new word. Easy enough. We used our resources. I would call or text my mom (a fluent Cree speaker), and we would search up words on creedictionary.com. Because we were going from English to Cree, it was difficult to get pronunciation right from just reading from the website, which is where my mom would come in and pronounce for us. This system went really well and were we’re happily saying simple things to each other like tanispe” (“when”), awîna (“who”), kîkwây (“what”). Suddenly it was midterm season, we were busy studying and our learning Cree project got put on the back burner. It was so easy to make an excuse like “life happened.”

Fast forward five years, neither of us is much better at Cree speaking. We let the whole “life happens” excuse really happen. Despite my parents being fluent, and my husband’s dad being fluent, we still barely know the basics. I’ve asked my mom, “why didn’t you teach us Cree,” as kindly as possibly. I could see the sadness in her eyes. She explained to me that she had a lot of trouble in school because English wasn’t her first language and that she didn’t want that for her children. “Oh,” was pretty much all that I could say to her, which felt really inadequate. It was a cold reminder of how we are people of two worlds.

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I have been given a new opportunity to become a better Cree speaker at my new job. Maybe it’s because it’s spring and the new season is inspiring me, maybe I’m just taking advantage of all the Cree speakers in my workplace, either way I am feeling motivated to get back on the road to learning Cree.

Recently I have been given, by a few of my co-workers, a Cree word or phrase nearly daily and I write it in my notebook or onto a sticky note so I can have it in front of me. Often when I’m not prepared, they will approach me and say something to me and Cree, forcing me to practice from memory, forcing me to learn. It is daunting, terrifying, humbling, fun, and an honour. These people have become my mentors, my anchor to learning my language. For that I am so grateful.

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I remember when I first started at this job I was scared to speak any Cree and ashamed of my pronunciations (and lack of Cree knowledge). Now I am bit more explorative in practicing Cree and I am challenging others when I see them (including my husband) to speak Cree with me. Sometimes I think I am too old to learn, but then I remind myself that it’s never too late to learn my language.

 – claudine bull