Welcome back to Pjilasi Mi’kma’ki. In this fourth episode, we’ll be talking about the power of language; what’s gained when you keep something alive in a word, and what’s lost when that word dies.
We’ll take a trip to the Mic Mac mall, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, to get a feel for the non-Native community’s understanding of the Mi’kmaq language.
We’ll also hear from two Mi’kmaq men on very important linguistic missions.
Tuma Young, from Unama’ki – otherwise known as Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia – is a lawyer and a professor at Cape Breton University. Early on, his parents recognized that Tuma wouldn’t become a great hunter or fisher, so they told him to go to school instead!
Tuma has worked for years to preserve traditional Mi’kmaq names of Nova Scotia’s birds and medicines. We talk to him about working with elders, students and within communities to save this important aspect of Mi’kmaq linguistic heritage.
Bernie Francis, also from Unama’ki, is a linguist and has helped developed a Mi’kmaq written orthography that is now widely accepted across Nova Scotia. Francis’ latest project is an interactive Mi’kmaq place name atlas that encompasses Nova Scotia. Bernie speaks of the value of knowing where you are, in Mi’kmaq, in traditional Mi’kmaq territory.
We hope you enjoy this episode.