Michif Speakers Gather in Timmins
By MNO Chair France Picotte, and MNO Education & Training Manager Dr. Chris Paci
Michif continues to be one of the languages spoken in Ontario today. Thanks to funding from the Aboriginal Languages Initiative, Canadian Heritage, and the Ministry of Education, on February 27, Michif speakers from across Ontario gathered for a day of sharing and discussion. The state of the Michif language spoken in Ontario is largely unknown outside of the Michif Committee. The committee has been around a number of years, functioning as a key group of dedicated volunteers with passion for the language. The day long gathering was an opportunity to share and celebrate Michif as a language for today and tomorrow.
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Historically, many of the Michif speakers were reluctant to speak in public. “We are pretty sure that we have more than two dialects but how many is still unknown. This gathering of speakers is but a minute example of what I suspect to be in existence in Ontario,” said France Picotte, Chair of the Métis Nation of Ontario. The Michif language is a language of survival and of necessity. In the early days, before the formation of Canada, Michif facilitated communication between diverse peoples, aided Métis mobility (across different cultural and linguistic landscapes) and contributed to the survival of our ancestors.
There are many questions about the state of Aboriginal languages: What do we need to do to ensure these languages are not lost with the current generation of speakers? What were those things that contributed to the development of the languages? As the Métis Nation continues to grow in Ontario what do we need to do to ensure the viability of Michif? Métis peoples’ ability to communicate with diverse peoples continues to be instrumental in the development of Ontario and Canada; the same values that were important in the past are of importance today and in the future. The Métis Nation of Ontario is committed to supporting Michif--gathering, preserving and propagating all the languages spoken by Métis.