Sadly, the Cree Language Retention Committee has been out of operation since at least 2003, but here is a 15-second tv spot from its height – probably about 2000, judging by the age of some of the kids. It features the late Dr Freda Ahenakew, and some of her very favourite children and grandchildren. (Pro tip: they were – every one of them – her favourites!)
The description of the committee’s logo includes some interesting ideas about the sacred number 4:
|mihkwâw wâpanohk itêhkê ê-sâkâstêk kâ-sîkwahk||ᒥᐦᒁᐤ ᐚᐸᓄᕽ ᐃᑌᐦᑫ ᐁ ᓵᑳᐢᑌᐠ ᑳ ᓰᑿᕽ||The east is red for the sunrise in spring|
|osâwâw sâwanohk itêhkê ê-âpihtâ-kîsikâk kâ-nîpihk||ᐅᓵᐚᐤ ᓵᐘᓄᕽ ᐃᑌᐦᑫ ᐁ ᐋᐱᐦᑖ ᑮᓯᑳᐠ ᑳ ᓃᐱᕽ||The south is yellow for noon in summer|
|sîpihkwâw pahkisimôtâhk itêhkê ê-otâkosik kâ-takwâkik||ᓰᐱᐦᒁᐤ ᐸᐦᑭᓯᒨᑖᕽ ᐃᑌᐦᑫ ᐁ ᐅᑖᑯᓯᐠ ᑳ ᑕᒁᑭᐠ||The west is blue for evening in autumn|
|wâpiskâw kîwêtinohk itêhkê ê-wâsêtâhkwâk kâ-pipohk||ᐚᐱᐢᑳᐤ ᑮᐍᑎᓄᕽ ᐃᑌᐦᑫ ᐁ ᐚᓭᑖᐦᒁᐠ ᑳ ᐱᐳᕽ||The north is white for starlight in winter|
The four eagles fly to represent the four stages of language learning.
Although the committee is no longer active, it is still doing good things every year. All of its remaining funds were used to create a scholarship that awards $500 to a Cree language student at First Nations University two times each year. The scholarship was created jointly in the names of Dr Freda Ahenakew, and Dr Jean Okimāsis, and receives a continuing endowment from the royalties earned by the print edition of nêhiyawêwin: itwêwina / Cree: Words, Arok Wolvengrey’s Cree Dictionary.
Learn more about the scholarship here: