Language Conference: Summary of the Main Recommendations Arising from the Cree Language and Culture Conference
November, 1997 - OujÃ© Bougoumou Eeyou Istchee
Responsibility-Literacy-Training-Curriculum Improvement and Development- Preservation of Culture and Language
The Assembly Recommended as Follows:
- That a language and culture law be adopted by the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee (Grand Council/Cree Regional Authority) and by each of the Cree community governments along with the required policies, programs and initiatives in order to ensure the protection, promotion and enhancement of the Cree Language and Culture. That the Cree language be recognized by the nine Cree communities and by the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee (Grand Council/Cree Regional Authority) as the official language of the Cree workplace and that this be established through laws, policies, programs and other initiatives.
- That the Cree National Entities and the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee (Grand Council/Cree Regional Authority) adopt a consistent spelling system for the Cree Language for the production of all written materials.
- That all Cree entities work together to promote and enhance the Cree Language and Culture by ensuring its use in the workplace and in meetings. Reports and internal and external correspondence should be in the Cree language to the extent possible. A Cree Language Commission should be created with representatives from each community and Cree language consulting firms should also be relied on for coordination and advice on how to implement this recommendation. Moreover the entities should develop plans for the improvement and increased use of Cree language and culture by their employees. In addition the entities should report annually to the General Assembly on what efforts they undertook in the previous year in the areas of Cree language and culture.
- That the Cree School Board Department of Adult Education (in collaboration with the Department of Cree Programs) [and the Cree Language Commission] identify a strategy to increase, enhance and promote the use of the Cree Language in the workplaces of the Cree people and to outline the means necessary to accomplish this objective. This is to be presented, for consideration and adoption, to the Council Commissioners at a date to be set by them. This strategy is to include the development of Cree written materials and programs necessary to teach written Cree to adults who would like to learn it.
- That the financial resources and pedagogical days be set aside by the leadership of the Cree School Board for the holding of regional gatherings/work sessions by the Cree Culture and Language teachers in order to improve communication among them (particularly those teaching the same grade level) so that they can mutually benefit from their collective experience.
- That ways be found immediately for the elders, who lived by hunting, to teach the Cree students out on the land about their knowledge of nature and Cree Culture. This knowledge was traditionally imparted to the youth in the bush and retention of this information is enhanced when it is learned in this setting.
- That each local school administration will give high priority to the implementation of recommendation '6' (above). This will include special efforts to identify required funding, equipment and to encourage the cross-cultural understanding among the staff to facilitate the undertaking of this initiative. The parents of the students should be invited to participate in the implementation of this recommendation.
- For Recommendations 5, 6, and 7 (above), in addition to any other specific required undertakings, the Cree School Board is asked to carry out consultations with the school principals, community education administrators, parents and teachers to consider adjustments to the school calendar in order to facilitate their implementation.
- That teacher trainees receive, in addition to their regular training program, instruction from Crees, including Cree elders, who have lived on and learned from the land. This training should be oriented towards the retention of Cree knowledge concerning the land, animals, water, climate, plants and the whole of nature.
- That the Cree School Board undertake measures to facilitate the training of Cree language specialists. Also, that it ensure that a bank of language specialists be put into place [to work with the Cree Language Commission] to record the Cree language and the Cree oral traditions. In addition to ensure that existing materials be organized and necessary measures are undertaken to see to the continued development, promotion and protection of the Cree language and that such measures continue to improve and increase.
- That the Cree School Board, Cree Regional Authority and Cree Communities put into place the means to ensure (in multi media formats) the ongoing recording, storage and publication of the Cree oral traditions (including legends, stories, songs, music, teachings, knowledge [including that concerning technologies -- the making and use of traditional Cree tools and clothing, and the preparation of traditional food and medicines] and personal, historical and political statements). New words and in addition especially the language of the hunting way of life should be recorded and published. That the efforts done in this regard will be such as to substantially increase the amount of such information that is recorded and published each year.
- That efforts be undertaken by the James Bay Cree Tele-Communications Society to make the Cree Culture and Language more available on television in the Cree communities and elsewhere.
- That Cree local governments and the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee (Grand Council/ Cree Regional Authority) undertake measures with the Cree entities to make the Cree language increasingly visible in public places in the Cree communities and in meetings. Also, that the written material used in meetings and resulting from meetings be made available in the Cree language.
- That the Cree Entities and governments hire Cree translators to make the Cree language materials more available and to facilitate the increased use of Cree in meetings. Also, that the Grand Council/Cree Regional Authority hire a Director of Cree language programs and initiatives.
- That all Cree institutions and Cree individuals are hereby encouraged to facilitate the involvement of the Cree youth, parents and elders in efforts aimed to ensure the retention, promotion and development of the Cree language, the Cree way of thinking and of all of the Cree oral and intellectual tradition. This will include in the case of the Cree School Board, the increased involvement of parents and elders in the teaching of the Cree Language and Culture in and outside of the classroom. Local gatherings should be held many times each year to improve local involvement and input into education.
- It is recognized by this Assembly that the Cree parents by tradition have the foremost responsibility for the education of their children and that this is particularly important in respect to language and in particular in regards to the retention of language. Therefore, it is recommended that all Cree institutions and specifically The Cree School Board (especially through parent-teacher committees), The Cree Board of Health and Social Services, The Cree Regional Authority, and the Cree Communities put into place the means and undertake the initiatives necessary to support this responsibility of the parents.