tawâw, Mary Cardinal Collins!

Not long ago, Mary mentioned on Facebook that she’d like to start a blog. I thought maybe this blog could help get her started. I’m thrilled she agreed to give it a try, so now I’ll get out of the way and let her introduce herself kwayask:


“Me in the trilby and my mom in the tam. My sisters, Nora directly behind my mom, and Debra to the side. All of us are fluent Cree speakers in Saddle Lake, Alberta / onihcikiskwapiwinihk.”

My name is Mary Cardinal Collins. I am originally from onihcikiskwapiwinihk Saddle Lake First Nation. I am from the clan Wecokan (wîcôkân ‘helper’ in SRO). Wecokan was my great-great-grandfather’s name. wîcôhkâniskwêw nisihkatikawinân mâna. This is my dad’s side of the family. My mom is of Métis heritage, although she was brought up on the reserve in the 40s. My mother is Theresa Lucille Cardinal née Batoche (her adoptive family name) but she was a Brosseau and her natural mom was Madeline Johnston from Brosseau. Maybe one of these days I will tell her story.

I spent my early days with the only nohkom I knew, Isabelle Batoche, an eighty-some year old kohkom who was 72 already when she adopted my mom as a baby. So I think I am unique in the sense that I hung out with a kohkom nôtikwêw who had memories and language of the early 1900s.

Then I went to Blue Quills Indian Residential School when I was seven, but while other children lost their language I didn’t for some reason. My mother is now eighty-five and the comments I make here will usually result from my conversations with her. I am blessed in many ways, but one is that my mother did not drink in her life so that her memory is excellent.

I want to write of maybe obscure Cree/nêhiyawêwin, etc., maybe some Michif, and just hopefully interesting ramblings about culture and language that I remember.

About Arden Ogg

Arden Ogg is Director of the Cree Literacy Network, launched in 2010 with the goal of creating Cree language literacy materials suitable for use by learners of all ages.
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