Vancouver, British Columbia, August 25, 2023 — BC Métis Federation (BCMF) hosted its first-ever French Michif Language Camp in the Nass Valley near Terrace from August 10 to August 16, 2023.
The language camp, facilitated by Rene Therrien, BCMF Vice President and fluent French Michif speaker and Jeanie Cardinal, BCMF Director of Michif Language, brought together six participants from across the province to partake in practical French Michif lessons. Learning activities included cooking, hikes, Michif language scavenger hunts, and sightseeing.
“We started the language camp as a pilot project, but it became so much more,” says Jeanie Cardinal, BCMF Director of Michif Language. “French Michif language learning was woven within culture and relationships. The experiences really brought home that language, culture, nature, and community are not separate things — they are an all-encompassing way of being in kinship with one another and all that surrounds us.”
The BCMF language camp participants and staff were welcomed to the Nisga’a Territory by Elder Herbert Morven. He shared that the specific area the language camp took place on is represented by the Bear totem, with the three other areas being the Wolf, The Raven, and the Lizard.
“Elder Morven moved us with his sharing, storytelling around the connection to the land, connection to the animals and how Indigenous languages are critical to the ways of being in the world around us,” says Jeanie Cardinal. “We were greeted by multiple black bears right within the camp location, which really brought home the connection between language learning and the natural world around us.”
The French Michif language is in the “critically endangered” category of Indigenous languages. Programs like the BCMF French Michif Language Camp are essential to keep the language alive for future generations. To find out more, visit the BCMF Michif Language Project website or browse our catalogue of lessons and audio files. The next French Michif Language Camp is planned for summer 2024.
The BC Métis Federation (BCMF) is a non-profit association that works with Métis communities to ensure the well-being of BCMF members. Through grassroots efforts, BCMF advocates on behalf of its many members, living all across the province.
Keith Henry, President, BC Métis Federation