Writing in the Sand: Heather Phipps (y-dialect)

Thanks to Heather Phipps for permission to share her poem “masinahikêwin yêkâhk/Writing in the Sand.” Heather, whose academic specialty at the University of Regina is Minority Language Education, chose to walk the walk as a student in the Cree 405 Creative Writing class taught by fellow-professor Solomon Ratt. The poem and photo were also published in the autumn 2021 issue of University of Regina’s Education News, but we are particularly pleased that she has also shared with us her own reading. For those of us who learn Cree as cultural outsiders, it takes an awful lot of practice, and almost as much courage, to share our attempts to read aloud. As we do so, we respectfully offer our voices in support of language revitalization and all it entails.

masinahikêwin yêkâhk

pêyakwâw ê-pôn-âpihtâ-kîsikâk, takwâki-pîsim ê-akimiht
kiwêwêpison kitsilanohihk
kinîsopiponwân
kitôcêhpîn êkwa kicîhkîstên pimâtisiwin.
kiyahkiwêpinitin wêwêpisowinihk
nipisiskâpahtên masinahikêwin yêkâhk.
“tânisi itastêw?” kitisi-kakwêcimin
nitayamihtân masinahikêwin
tahto awâsis asitakimâw.
“âhâ!” kitisin, êkosi nawac ispimihk kiwêwêpison.
nipakosêyimowin nîkânihk kâsispôhtêmakan
kwêyask wiyasiwêwin, miyohtwâwin, sâkihiwêwin.
mêskocipayinwa kipimâtisiwininaw.
apîsis ici, pimihâwi-pîsim ê-akimiht
nipimohtân oskana kâ-asastêki
ê-otâkosik.
ê-nîkânastêk kihci-kiskinwahamâtowikamik
niso ê-osâwi-mihkwâki mîkiwâhpa wâsaskotêwa
ê-kistêyihcikâtêki iyiniw-awâsisak.
wâsaskotêwa pêtâwak pakosêyimowina
tahto awâsis asitakimâw.

ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑫᐏᐣ ᔦᑳᕽ

ᐯᔭᒁᐤ ᐁ ᐴᓈᐱᐦᑖ ᑮᓯᑳᐠ, ᑕᒁᑭ ᐲᓯᒼ ᐁ ᐊᑭᒥᐦᐟ
ᑭᐍᐍᐱᓱᐣ ᑭᐟᓯᓬᐊᓄᐦᐃᕽ
ᑭᓃᓱᐱᐳᓎᐣ
ᑭᑑᒉᐦᐲᐣ ᐁᑿ ᑭᒌᐦᑮᐢᑌᐣ ᐱᒫᑎᓯᐏᐣ᙮
ᑭᔭᐦᑭᐍᐱᓂᑎᐣ ᐍᐍᐱᓱᐏᓂᕽ
ᓂᐱᓯᐢᑳᐸᐦᑌᐣ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑫᐏᐣ ᔦᑳᕽ᙮
“ᑖᓂᓯ ᐃᑕᐢᑌᐤ?”ᐃ ᑭᑎᓯ ᑲᑵᒋᒥᐣ
ᓂᑕᔭᒥᐦᑖᐣ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑫᐏᐣ
ᑕᐦᑐ ᐊᐚᓯᐢ ᐊᓯᑕᑭᒫᐤ᙮
“ᐋᐦᐋ!” ᑭᑎᓯᐣ, ᐁᑯᓯ ᓇᐘᐨ ᐃᐢᐱᒥᕽ ᑭᐍᐍᐱᓱᐣ᙮
ᓂᐸᑯᓭᔨᒧᐏᐣ ᓃᑳᓂᕽ ᑳᓯᐢᐴᐦᑌᒪᑲᐣ
ᑵᔭᐢᐠ ᐏᔭᓯᐍᐏᐣ, ᒥᔪᐦᑤᐏᐣ, ᓵᑭᐦᐃᐍᐏᐣ᙮
ᒣᐢᑯᒋᐸᔨᓌ ᑭᐱᒫᑎᓯᐏᓂᓇᐤ᙮
ᐊᐲᓯᐢ ᐃᒋ, ᐱᒥᐦᐋᐏ ᐲᓯᒼ ᐁ ᐊᑭᒥᐦᐟ
ᓂᐱᒧᐦᑖᐣ ᐅᐢᑲᓇ ᑳ ᐊᓴᐢᑌᑭ
ᐁ ᐅᑖᑯᓯᐠ᙮
ᐁ ᓃᑳᓇᐢᑌᐠ ᑭᐦᒋ ᑭᐢᑭᓌᐦᐊᒫᑐᐏᑲᒥᐠ
ᓂᓱ ᐁ ᐅᓵᐏ ᒥᐦᒁᑭ ᒦᑭᐚᐦᐸ ᐚᓴᐢᑯᑌᐘ
ᐁ ᑭᐢᑌᔨᐦᒋᑳᑌᑭ ᐃᔨᓂᐘᐚᓯᓴᐠ᙮
ᐚᓴᐢᑯᑌᐘ ᐯᑖᐘᐠ ᐸᑯᓭᔨᒧᐏᓇ
ᑕᐦᑐ ᐊᐚᓯᐢ ᐊᓯᑕᑭᒫᐤ᙮

Writing in the sand

One afternoon in late September
you are swinging at the park in Kitsilano.
You are two and a half
Energetic and full of enthusiasm for life.
I am pushing you on the swing
when I notice there is writing in the sand.
‘What does it say?’ you ask me.
I read the words
Every child matters.
‘Yeah!’ you call out in agreement as you swing higher.
I have hope for future generations,
for justice, kindness, love.
We are living in times of change.
A few days later, in October,
I am walking in oskana kâ-asastêki
In the evening
two orange teepees light up the campus
in front of the university,
honouring Indigenous children.
Light brings hope
Every child matters.

(Photo © Heather Phipps, First Nations University of Canada, 2021)

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