PEI

'Kwe' Ni'n Teluisi': Learning Mi'kmaq online from the Native Council of P.E.I.

The Native Council of P.E.I. has launched a new video series that aims to teach people the Mi’kmaq language. The videos teach viewers individual words and simple phrases.

‘It’s a strong language that was almost lost’

Starr Bennett says it's important for the Mi'kmaq people to use their own language, even if it is just one word. (Travis Kingdon/CBC News)

The Native Council of P.E.I. has launched a new video series that aims to teach people the Mi'kmaq language. 

Created by youth in the council, the videos teach viewers simple words and phrases.

In the most recent video on the group's Facebook page, several youth introduce themselves saying: "Kwe' Ni'n Teluisi,"(Hello, my name is) and then teach the viewer a word like Mniku, which is Mi'kmaq for island. 

Starr Bennett, co-ordinator with the council and responsible for the project, said she wants to encourage more people in the Mi'kmaq community to learn the language.

"The overarching goal is to get people proud and saying the Mi'kmaq language," she said. "Speaking it, even if it's just one little word a day, just using it in everyday language to communicate with other people." 

The videos teach viewers simple words in the Mi'kmaq language. (Submitted by Starr Bennett)

"People need to know their language. It helps in bringing back our culture and makes us stronger as a whole," she said.

Bennett said her grandmother taught her a fair bit of the Mi'kmaq language, and she wants to share that knowledge with others in the community. 

"My grandmother was a part of the residential school and she was not able to speak her language and was told that it was wrong," she said. "It's important to bring the language back because it was lost for such a long time." 

'Courage to speak their language'

While the videos are intended for the Mi'kmaq community to become familiar with their own language, Bennett said they are also for those outside the community interested in learning more about the culture.

"I think that would be amazing for people to hear and start realizing that our language is still around today and we've overcome a lot of struggles and we're still here and we're still strong and very proud," she said. 

And she said she hopes everyone takes something away from the videos. 

"I hope that this message brings everybody strength and brings them courage to speak their language and continue on with our culture and be proud of it."

Katie Jordan says 'Hello, my name is Katie' in Mi'kmaq. (Submitted by Starr Bennett)

The videos are created by staff at the Native Council and volunteers like Katie Jordan, who said her participation shows people outside of the Mi'kmaq community are also welcome to learn the language. 

"You know, I'm just learning. I'm starting to learn more. I'm not even a Mi'kmaq person. I'm Mohawk ancestrally," she said.

"It's a strong language that was almost lost."

Katie Jordan volunteered for one of the videos. She says even though she's not Mi'kmaq, it shows that anyone can learn the language. (Travis Kingdon/CBC News)

Jordan encourages other people to learn the language and become more educated on the Mi'kmaq community.

"I believe that's a big tool for reconciliation especially for the non-Indigenous community, to acknowledge that the Mi'kmaq community is here and that this is unceded Mi'kmaq territory that everybody occupies," she said. 

Bennett said the council plans to release videos every Monday.

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