Nehiyaw Language Lessons Reclaim Your Language with Nehiyaw Lessons

Run by Reuben Quinn

  • Program Coordinator
  • rquinn@cfrac.com
  • (780) 425-4644

Course Description

Background

The Nehiyaw (Cree) Language Lessons Program is an ongoing offering of the Centre for Race and Culture that is unique to our organization.  This is due to the methodology used by Reuben Quinn, our language instructor and project coordinator.

The methodology, which is called cahkipehikanak (syllabics) or the star chart, is a traditional format that incorporates the cultural and philosophical teachings of the Nehiyaw language. This method of teaching the Nehiyaw language is not used anywhere in the greater Edmonton area or in the entire educational system in Edmonton.

The objective of our language lessons is to teach Nehiyaw using this holistic approach based on 44 symbols, 14 consonants and the eight-direction syllabic system. The directions’ philosophies are included as the lessons are taught in the manner of natural law.

Edmonton has the second largest Aboriginal population of all Canadian cities, second only to Winnipeg. Many of our citizens are searching for ways to regain their lost language and reconnect with their cultural identity. Through our language lessons, learners become empowered by learning Nehiyaw using the traditional and historical way of language transmission. This helps participants to reclaim and strengthen their own cultural and linguistic heritage while also ensuring the survival of this language.

How does this program fit with CRC’s mission, vision, and strategic priorities?

Our Nehiyaw language program is more than just an opportunity for people to improve their Cree language skills—it is also an important piece of the reconciliation process.

For survivors of the residential school system and other impacts of colonization, the revitalization of language is an important part of strengthening culture and cultural identity. The program also provides opportunities for students to make connections with community leaders and elders during field trips and guest speaker visits.

Event Details

  • Weeks 1 to 4

    Introduction to the 8 direction, 44 symbol, 14 consonant star chart system (Nehiyaw cahkipeyihkannah). Logistics of the cahkipeyihkanah.

  • Week 5 and 6

    Articulation. The p, t, k, c sounds are not represented in the English alphabet irrespective of diphthongs. The mechanical function, which is articulation, of speech will be put into practice with each student individually.

  • Week 7 and 8

    Greetings and salutations; Naming animate and inanimate objects; Identifying relationships i.e. mother, father, brother, sister etc.

  • Weeks 9 to 12

    Basic conversation; Function of prayer

  • Weeks 13 to 16

    Personalizing the language to one’s needs; Reviewing the star chart; Making a list of Elder, family, library, internet resources; Evaluation