Joi T Arcand, 2019: Àbadanoke | Continuous Fire | Feu continue

Ramp leading to Scotiabank Great Hall of the National Gallery of Canada, showing Joi T. Arcand, ᐆᑌᓃᑳᓅᕁ (ōtē nīkānōhk), 2019, vinyl installation (collection of the artist, © Joi T. Arcand, photo: NGC)

Thanks to Connie Berry of Ottawa for sharing photos from her recent visit to the National Gallery of Canada, where Muskeg Lake Cree artist Joi T Arcand was commissioned to create another of her large-scale syllabic installations. In this one, enormous vinyl cut-outs in neon colours are displayed on the ramp leading to the amazing Àbadakone | Continuous Fire | Feu continue international Indigenous art exhibition. The exhibition continues until April.

Part of Joi’s intention in her syllabic installations is to challenge individuals to find out on their own what the syllabics mean. In the case of this CLN post, that involved passing Connie’s photos on to Solomon Ratt (to expose parts of the message obscured by the person walking in the image above). Sol then provided transliteration into SRO and translation. I hope Joi would agree that we’ve honoured her challenge!

Moving up the ramp towards the gallery, we read:

ôtê nikân[î]hk nika-nihtâ-nêhiyawastân ôma mâka nititwêwina âkayâsîmopayaniwa êkwa nikimotamâkon

ᐆᑌ ᓂᑳᓃᕽ  ᓂᑲ ᓂᐦᑖ ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐘᐢᑖᐣ ᐆᒪ ᒫᑲ ᓂᑎᑘᐏᓇ ᐋᑲᔮᓰᒧᐸᔭᓂᐘ ᐁᑿ ᓂᑭᒧᑕᒫᑯᐣ

In the future, I will know how to write this in Cree but my words turn to English and it steals from me.

Àbadakone | Continuous Fire | Feu continue

Àbadakone: From big to small, it’s an uplifting exhibition of contemporary Indigenous art

#JoiTArcand #textbasedwork #nehiyawewin #plainscree #vinyllettering #nationalgalleryofcanada #colonnade #languagelearning #hope #encouragement #indigenouspeoples #indigenouslanguages #yearofindigenouslanguages #contemporaryart #contemporaryartist #indigenousartist #indigenous #ottawa #canada #installationart #sitespecificart #artmuseum

Posted in Community News, From the Mainstream, Syllabics | Leave a comment

Atikamekw Vocabulary Tools (in French):

Image credit:

Have you ever wondered about the r-dialect of Cree? Atikamekw is one of the Cree dialects spoken in southwest Quebec in the communities of Obidjewan, Manawan and Wemontachie. People there call their language Nehiromowin. Merci à mon amie Marie-Christine Payette d’avoir partager ce site: ay-hay mistahi, Marie-Christine, for sharing this! 

Although the Quebec-based Alloprof website is presented only in French, much of the Atikamek vocabulary will sound very familiar to speakers of Cree (audio is provided for all vocabulary, along with helpful illustrations). Some words, such as masinahikan “book” are exactly the same. Other words look more different than they sound because of the French-based spelling system. The letter o is used (as it is in French) for both the o and the w of SRO; tc is used for SRO c; c is used for sh (not an SRO sound). And finally, of course, Attikamekw also has larger differences in word choice and grammar that go well beyond a small vocabulary sample of 500 words – but checking to see what you recognize is still a lot of fun!


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Animal Song: Art Napoleon (Northern y-dialect)

In honour of International Mother Tongue Day, Art Napoleon shared this very sweet song that he wrote in Northern y-dialect. (I suspect he may have written it for his own little Niska). As Art says: “Here’s a little song in Northern Cree from my old kid’s album that celebrates our kinship to the animal world. Their habitats are our habitats ❤️” 

Transcription is my own, with thanks for corrections to Solomon Ratt. (Always grateful for the teamwork!) Note that the ê sound is not used in Northern y-dialect, and Art pronounces ê as î.

Sol also suggested two additional verses – it would be great fun to get kids to add their own verses as well, about various animals (or people!) and their homes.

Art’s “old kids’ album” is still available for purchase online. It’s called Môcikan.

niska, ô niska
tânitê mâka kiwî-itohtân?
sâwanohk, ô sâwanohk
êkotê mâna ê-wîkiyân
Goose, oh goose
Where is it that you are going?
To the south, to the south
That’s where I usually live.
môswa, o môswa
tânitê mâka kiwî-itohtân?
sakâhk, ô sakâhk
êkotê mâna ê-wîkiyân
Moose, oh moose
Where is that you are going?
To the forest, to the forest
That's where I usually live.
êkotê mâna
êkotê mâna
êkotê mâna ê-wîkiyân
That's where,
that's where,
That's where I usually live
kinosêw, ô kinosêw
tânitê mâka kiwî-itohtân?
sâkahikanihk, o sâkahikanihk
êkotê mâna ê-wîkiyân
Fish, oh fish
Where is that you are going?
To the lake, to the lake
That's where I usually live
kihêw, ô kihêw
tânite mâka kiwî-itohtân?
kîsikohk, kîsikohk
êkota mâna ê-pimâtisiyân
Eagle, oh eagle,
Where is it that you are going?
To the sky, to the sky
That's where I usually live
êkota mâna
êkota mâna
êkota mâna ê-pimâtisiyân.
That's where,
that's where,
That's where I usually live
[Two more suggested verses - other animals could be added]
wînasakâtihp, ô wînasakâtihp
tânitê mâka kiwî-itohtân?
wâtihk, ô wâtihk
êkotê mâna ê-wîkiyân.
Groundhog, oh groundhog
Where is that you are going?
In a hole, in a hole,
That's where I usually live
amisk , ô amisk
tânitê mâka kiwî-itohtân?
wîstihk, ô wîstihk
êkotê mâna ê-wîkiyân.
Beaver, oh beaver
Where is it that you are going?
To the lodge, to the lodge,
That's where I usually live

Posted in Audio (y-dialect), Songs in Cree | Leave a comment

Cultural Survival: Art Napoleon (northern y-dialect)

Thanks, Art Napoleon, for permission to share this gentle prayer song in Northern Cree (northern y-dialect) to remind us that cultural survival is what it’s all about in these times of turmoil.

pimâcihowin : cultural survival

kihcikîsikohk kâ-ayâyin
kitimâkinawinân ôta askîhk
kitimâkinawik awâsisak
kitimâkinawik oskinîkowak
kitimâkinawik piyakoskânak
kitimâkinawik nîhiyawak
ka-môcikihtânaw ka-nîmihitonaw
ka-môcikihtânaw ka-nîhiyawânaw
hey kimosôminawak
hey kohkominawak


Posted in Audio (y-dialect), Songs in Cree | 1 Comment

Dawn Marie Marchand at Câhcacêp Art & Tea House, Edmonton

Only three days left to view Dawn Marie Marchand’s solo exhibition at the Câhcacep Gallery Café, owned and operated in Edmonton by the remarkable Jerry and Jo-Ann Saddleback. câhcacêp means “a little bit of everything” – and in addition to Dawn Marie’s works (available at every size and price point), the gallery also features blankets, jewelry, vintage clothing and footwear. And whether you can treat yourself to a piece of gorgeous original artwork or not, you are always welcome to pihtikwê, api, maskîhkapoy minihkwê! (Come in, sit down, drink some tea!) 

Thanks to Anita Jenkins, too, for sharing this link to Boyle McCauley News – her neighbourhood newsletter – where a piece from Paula Kirman appears with more photos.

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Passionate Hearts from Simon Bird 2020

The talk of love is getting pretty serious around here (though we’re keeping it G-rated), with four new talking hearts from Simon Bird. Thanks to Solomon Ratt for supplying audio.

These are correct as-is for y-dialect; 
For th-dialect, change all of the ê sounds to î. 

Be sure to click through to past Valentine’s posts to find the best stuff for kids and classrooms! 

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kikiskêyihtên cî kayâs ôhci ê-sakihitan : ᑭᑭᐢᑫᔨᐦᑌᐣ ᒌ ᑲᔮᐢ ᐆᐦᒋ ᐁ ᓴᑭᐦᐃᑕᐣ
(Do you know how long I’ve been loving you?) 

kayâs ohci ê-akâwatitân : ᑲᔮᐢ ᐅᐦᒋ ᐁ ᐊᑳᐘᑎᑖᐣ
(For a long time I have desired you) 

kiskakihin ci? : ᑭᐢᑲᑭᐦᐃᐣ ᒋ?
(Do you love me?)

kîspin kisâkihin, sêmak pê-ocêmin : ᑮᐢᐱᐣ ᑭᓵᑭᐦᐃᐣ, ᓭᒪᐠ ᐯ ᐅᒉᒥᐣ
(If you love me, come kiss me right away) 

Looking for previous Valentine posts?
Try here:

Posted in Audio (y-dialect), Simon Bird (#CreeSimonSays), Solomon Ratt, Valentine's Day | Leave a comment

I Love to Read Month: Westgrove School, Winnipeg

We love to read, too; especially in Cree! Thank you Westgrove School for inviting us to come and read Monique Grey Smith and Julie Flett’s My Heart Fills with Happiness in English and in Swampy Cree, and thank you all for being such great listeners. êkosâni! 

(The book is published bilingually in English and Plains Cree, but Ken Paupanekis easily adapted the SRO spelling to Swampy Cree (n-dialect), his first language.)

We also loved hearing Westgrove kids sing, so we’ve added some more songs to our collection for all of you to try. (Photos above are posted here with permission).



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Look who’s watching: Hockey in Cree

nikotwâsik tipahikan ka-mâcipayik anôhc.
Seven o’clock it starts today.

Join Darryl Chamakese and his son “oskâpêwis” in cheering the resilience and resurgence of Cree as a 21st-century language as they watch his “nôhcâwîs” (little father or Uncle) Jason tonight on APTN. I’ve heard rumours that the Winnipeg Jets and the Chicago Blackhawks may also make an appearance in full regalia. 😉

Click here for highlights from the March 24th 2019 first-ever APTN broadcast of hockey in Cree – and type “hockey” into the search bar on the right for other hockey-related posts and vocabulary that will help with the cheering!

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Reconciliation: Solomon Ratt (audio)

ka-mînosihtâhk miyo-wícêhtowin isi: mâka kâkikê kitohâskwatikawinaw. 

ᑲ ᒦᓄᓯᐦᑖᕽ ᒥᔪ-wíᒉᐦᑐᐏᐣ ᐃᓯ: ᒫᑲ ᑳᑭᑫ ᑭᑐᐦᐋᐢᑿᑎᑲᐏᓇᐤ᙮ 

Reconciliation toward harmony: but always at the point of a gun.

This meme in Cree was inspired by lawyer Bruce McIvor of First People’s Law, and his article Reconciliation at the End of a Gun: The Wet’suwet’en and the RCMP. Read the full article here:


Posted in Audio (th-dialect), Audio (y-dialect), Solomon Ratt | 1 Comment

Standing with Wet’suwet’en

With thanks to Keisha Erwin for creating this image in Cree solidarity, and Sol for original translation and audio. #WetsuwetenSolidarity

Posted in Audio (y-dialect), Solomon Ratt | Leave a comment