Name, powers of Justice League’s Cree heroine revealed at last

equinoxclose“Code-named Equinox, Miiyahbin is a 16-year-old from Moose Factory, Ontario, whose power comes from the Earth and changes with the seasons. As revealed in October, the character is inspired in part by Shannen Koostachin, a teenage activist who lobbied the federal government for a new school in Attawapiskat First Nation, on the James Bay Coast. Koostachin died in a car accident in 2010 at the age of 15.”

Read more, and see the CBC interview with artist Jeff Lemire at Comic Book Resources:


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Cree language facts for editors of English and French: Standard Spelling

This article is about how SRO and Syllabics can be precisely equivalent in writing Cree. It is the third piece Dorothy Thunder and I have published through the Editors’ Association of Canada and the “Language Portal of Canada” — the federal government’s online information site for language professionals.

Through the Language Portal, we reach out (in English and in French) to “word nerds” of all varieties and offer them a taste of what it’s like to work with Cree. We hope these pieces are also helpful to students, teachers and speakers of Cree, showing the language through a slightly different lens.

Cree language facts for editors of English and French: Standard Spelling.

La langue crie démystifiée pour les réviseurs français et anglais : l’orthographe normalisée.

Previous Language Portal pieces

October 2013: Cree Gender

June 2013: The Cree Language Family

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10th Annual Nêhiyawak Land & Language Summer Camp

For further details, visit the Facebook Group Aboriginal Friendship Centres of Saskatchewan at:

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A First Glimpse at DC Comics’ New Cree Superhero

Although her name and role have yet to be revealed, we’ve finally got a first peek at Jeff Lemire’s new Cree superhero inspired by real-life Cree superhero Shannen Koostachin. I love that Lemire had a contest so students could suggest her super powers. Click here to read more via Jezebel. 

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Prairies Workshop on Languages and Linguistics

Linguists in Brandon Hardy survivors of the first PWoLL, talking all things Cree over breakfast in Brandon Sunday, March 2nd. Thanks to Jeff Muehlbauer and Clare Cook, and Brandon University’s Native Studies Department for the warm welcome, and the opportunity to build truly nurturing connections across the prairies through yesterday’s workshop, the Cree chapter of which continues this morning over breakfast at Brandon’s Royal Oak. As we begin to disperse once again back across the prairies to continue our collective work on Cree, we’ll all be smiling warmly, despite the prairie wind chill.  L-R: Arok Wolvengrey (FNU), Conor Snoek (UofA/CILLDI), Jan van Eijk (UofS), Antti Arppe (UofA/CILLDI), Arden Ogg (Cree Literacy Network), Jean Okimâsis (FNU), Dorothy Thunder (UofA/CILLDI).

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About all those Cousins – Arok Wolvengrey

The cousin terminology of Cree is confusing to many – because it is so different from “cousin” in English. Here is, hopefully, a brief yet useful explanation. It’s important to remember that there are separate charts for male and female speakers, since the terminology changes depending on whether a man or a woman is speaking! Click here to download a 3-page pdf that includes the following description, plus both charts.  A fuller description of the relationships follows the charts. 

This chart is for female speakers:

For Female Speakers

This chart is for male speakers:

This chart is for male speakers describing their cousins.

We have siblings – our brothers and sisters. In English, we use the term brother for our male siblings, regardless of age. So my older brother Hal is “my brother”, but my younger brother Marlow is also “my brother”. In Cree, however, more distinctions are marked, because I have to be specific. Hal is nistês (my older brother) and Marlow is nisîm (or nisîmis) (my younger sibling). It’s the same for sisters. Dolores is nimis (my older sister) and Nancy is nisîm (or nisîmis) (my younger sibling). Note, I differentiate older sblings by gender, but not the younger siblings – younger brothers and sisters are both called nisîm (or nisîmis).

We have cousins – the children of our parents’ siblings. In English, we use the term cousins regardless of age, gender or which side of the family they come from. They are all cousins. Again, in Cree, far more important distinctions are made. First of all, there is a very important distinction made between “parallel-cousins” and “cross-cousins”.

Parallel-cousins are the children of your father’s brother or of your mother’s sister. They are called “parallel” because of the same gender of your father and his brother (male) or of your mother and her sister (female). They are of parallel gender. In Cree, you can use different terms for your parallel-cousins (such as the man’s term niciwâm “my male parallel-cousin” or the woman’s term niciwâmiskwêm “my female parallel-cousin”. But you can also use the same terms as you would use for your siblings. In Cree, your siblings and your parallel cousins are treated the same. In English, siblings and parallel cousins are not treated the same.

In contrast to parallel-cousins, there are also cross-cousins.
Cross-cousins are the children of your father’s sister or your mother’s brother. They are “cross” cousins because of the opposite gender of your father (male) and his sister (female) or of your mother (female) and her brother (male). They are of opposite or cross gender. In Cree, your cross-cousins are never treated the same as your siblings or parallel-cousins. This is a very important difference. The terms for your cross-cousins are specific to the gender of both cousins. A man calls his male cross-cousin nîstâw (or nîscâs). A woman calls her female cross-cousin nicâhkos. The key term is a term that both men and women use, but which means different things for each. The term is nîtim. When a man says nîtim, he means “my female cross-cousin”. When a woman says nîtim, she means “my male cross-cousin”. So, the term nîtim means “my cross-cousin of the opposite gender to me”. I am male, so I can only call my female cross-cousin “nîtim” and reciprocally she would call me “nîtim”. The cross-cousin relationship is important, because traditionally cross-cousins of the opposite gender (those who call each other nîtim) were permitted to marry. Parallel-cousins were never allowed to marry. Parallel-cousins are like siblings. Cross-cousins are not siblings. This is not a distinction that English makes at all.

I will post a couple of kinship charts in the file section of this page which show the terms.

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Bannock Boogie! Come eat bannock!

artnapoleon_mocikanA great shot of energy from Art Napoleon and friends – and a probable theme song for Winnipeg’s Althea “Got Bannock?” Guiboche, celebrating her First Anniversary serving bannock to the homeless on the cold streets of Winnipeg.

Art’s dialect is Bush Cree from BC, a y-dialect that often uses î instead of ê, but this blues jam is universal! I’d be thrilled to add lyrics in SRO – but first I’ll have to sit down and stop dancing.

The album includes more great tunes and lessons in Cree for kids. You can find the whole album on iTunes:


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