An educational concept which began in the fall of 2012 has now turned into reality and with its launch an imaginative learning tool for young Michif learners. The Michif Language Learning Project began with the concept that the younger you are the easier it is to learn language. Repetition is required and access to Michif speakers can be problematic in many communities. It was this lack of early learning resource that prompted Marilyn Bean and Jan Ovans of the Cowichan Valley Métis Association, to apply for a Canadian Heritage grant, to develop an early childhood Michif immersion project. To view the entire project go to www.michiflanguage.ca
Jan and Marilyn wrote script and Métis elder Stella Johnson provided the translation. Crucial to the project was the art and animation needed to appeal to this age group which was provided by Earlene Bitterman. Earlene Bitterman stated, “There is a shortage of Michif learning tools that attract the interest of young learners, and what better a medium to teach youth but with cartoons. I watched two weeks of tutorials; the Animate pro software was easy to learn. I notice a lot of mistakes, but they say artists always criticize their work the most, this project was a pleasant and fun learning curve.”
With the basic art and animation done, Stella Johnson, provided the audio for the video’s main character, Kokhum. Stella also taught the children the song, Grandpa has a Farm. Stella has nothing but praise for this talented group of children who rehearsed to get the pronunciations right. Stella with Victoria Pruden also co-wrote and sang the Birthday Song. Stella has often said that language is the heart of Métis culture. The Cowichan Metis Valley Association stated, “We hope, that we obtain the next year’s grant as an application was completed for another project in 2013, to provide not only more expanded vocabulary but interactivity, as the Métis youth of today are exposed to technological learning tools where learning is a hands on experience.”
“I would love to delve into another aboriginal education project; it has been the most significant project I have ever worked on, and with creative enthusiastic community members. I see this tool has the ability to adapt to any aboriginal language, and it just may be the instrument we need to preserve our aboriginal languages, that so desperately needs to be taught to our children. With every generation we are losing our language, and in my family Michif and Bungee was spoke in our home. It was a secret language. I’m saddened that Michif was never taught in schools as a second language, and with resources such as these perhaps it’s a new beginning,” said Earlene Bitterman
The project team would like to give special thanks to Stella Johnson who provided the inspiration to create this video. The DVD is now in print, and will be made available through various BC Métis organizations.
BC Metis Federation is extremely proud of the latest accomplishment of board member Earlene Bitterman from Hudson Hope. Earlene has been a BC Metis Federation leader since being elected in September 2012. She was contracted with funding provided by by Heritage Canada to the Cowichan Valley Metis Nation. The project is to support Michif language teaching for Metis children ages 0-6 and uses animation to provide an interactive tool that will excite the imagination as children learn their culture through our Michif language.
The title of the project is the Michif Language Animation Project that is now available online and BC Metis Federation thanks Stella Johnson for her continued cultural language work as one of elders who truly understands authentic Metis culture.
This is one of the best examples of support our community in BC needs to ensure the future of our Metis culture through our children. Thank you to Cowichan Valley Metis Nation for your efforts to secure the contract while providing meaningful opportunities for people. The Metis children can all benefit from this excellent project.
Thank you Earlene Bitterman and the Cowichan Valley Metis Association members for all their hard work put into this project.
[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/DVDMichifLanguage-PressRelease2.pdf” style=”download”]Download the DVD MichifLanguage-PressRelease in PDF[/ilink]