The launch of Rosanna Deerchild’s Cree-language edition of Calling Down the Sky on Sunday, 29 November 2017 at McNally Robinson in Winnipeg was poignant and sweet. The photos here – most from Rosanna’s Facebook Feed – capture the best of the event, where a small group of Cree speakers assembled to demonstrate their hard-won command of the Cree language despite a century of colonial interference.
The guest readers included Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas from Pukatawagan, University of Manitoba Master’s student Janice Bone from Pimicikamak, and Cree Literacy Network board member and university professor Ken Paupanekis from Norway House, each one a living testament to resistence and resiliency.
Rosanna – deprived of her birthright language through her mother’s residential school traumas – also read a poem in the translation provided by First Nations University professor Solomon Ratt, while encouraging non-speakers to reflect on the experience of listening without understanding that Residential School students were forced to endure.
Ken Paupanekis – who teaches for both the University of Manitoba and at University College of the North commented on the difficulty that reading presented for each of the speakers: Learning to read and write Cree is a separate skill that none of the speakers acquired in childhood, and few fluent Cree speakers have ever had the opportunity to learn.
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