Happy Birthday, kohkom Sophie: National Indigenous People’s Languages Day 2021

iyiniw pīkiskwēwin kīsikāw = Indigenous People’s Language Day

Thanks to Andrea Custer for agreeing (on this National Indigenous People’s Language Day) to share this reflection on her kohkom’s birthday with all of us. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate!

(The photo, taken by Andrea’s sister from HB Photography and used with permission – shows Andrea (far left), ohkoma Sophie Custer (centre front), okāwiya Julianne, otānisa Sky, Alyse ikwa Scarlett (with kitty ears), ikwa okosisa Tyler ikwa Andrew (on kohkom’s knee).


anohc kā-kīsikāk ī-mithwīthītamahk ithiniwi-pīkiskwīwina ōta kānata kā-isithihkātīk ninohtī-wīcihānān Andrea Custer ta-wī-mitho-tipiskamithit ohkoma. “mitho-tipiska kahkithaw kititinān Sophie!” mistahi kīkway ki-mīthinān ta-mithītamahk ohci ikwa kitatamīhīnān.

Today as we celebrate Indigenous Languages here in what is called Canada, we would like to join Andrea Custer in wishing ohkoma (her grandmother) a Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday from all of us, Sophie! You give us so much to celebrate and you make us proud.


anohc nohkom tipiskam, ayinānīmitanaw nīwosāp ikwa itahtopiponīw. mitoni ninanāskomon ithikohk kinwīsk ī-pī-mīthikawasiyāhk nohkom. iyako awa nitīhinān awa okāwīmaw, kwayask mistahi mitho-kīkwātho nipī-mīthikonān

Today is my grandmother’s birthday, she is 84 years old now. I am so grateful for all the time she has been gifted to our family. She is our heart and matriarch who has given us so much.

kā-kī-apisīsisit kī-sipwītahāw ayamihāwi-kiskinwahamātowikamikohk (residential school) isi, nīwo poko ī-kī-tahtopiponīt. ikota ī-kī-kitimākisit kinwīsk. mitoni māna ī-pīkotīhiyān kā-māmitonīthītamān ī-apisīsisit ithikohk ikwa ī-kitimahācik nohkoma. māka kiyāpic kā-kī-kīsi-opikit ī-kī-mitho-ohpikihācik nimosōmipan asici piyakosāp awāsisa. mitho-kīkwātho ī-mīthācik tapiskōc nīhithaw pimātisiwin, maskawātisiwin, sōhkitīhiwin, tāpowakīthihtamowin ikwa nīhithaw pīkiskwīwin.

When she was small, she was taken to residential school, she was only four years old. There she suffered so much for a long time. My heart breaks when I think of her being so small and them treating her so bad. Still, when she was grown, she, with my late grandfather, were able to raise 11 children in a good way. They gave them good things like Cree way of life, strength, faith and Cree Language.

anohc ikwa tahto-kīsikaw ninanāskomāw kisī-manitow wītha ohci. mithotīpiska nohkō, kisākihitin kākikī mīna kākikī.

I am so grateful to Creator today and every day for her. Happy Birthday grandma, I love you always and forever.

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