First Nations University project brings Cree children's books to Sask.

First Nations University project brings Cree children's books to Sask.

The First Nations University of Canada (FNUC) is working with Prince's Charities Canada to help revitalize Indigenous languages in Saskatchewan.

The project has had five Indigenous language children's books written by SayITFirst Inc. published. The books were translated and edited by FNUC faculty and alumni.

The five books were written in Cree dialects of Swampy, Woods and Plain, and are targeted at children from the ages of four to eight.

The aim of the project is to foster a younger generation of speakers.

"One of our missions at First Nations University is to help support Indigenous culture in every way that we can, and language revitalization is critical," said Lynn Wells, the vice-president academic at FNUC.

"As we know, many of the Indigenous languages in the country are facing almost extinction now, so the more materials that can be out there to be used in schools really helps keep those languages alive and vital," said Wells.

Interactive component

The five books feature phonetic pronunciation of Cree words and English translations. Readers, teachers and parents can also use the Aurasma app to hear a native language speaker reading the book to ensure proper pronunciation.

Wells said this aspect is important for children first learning the language.

"For these languages that don't get heard, because there are so few speakers in some cases, you really need the oral component so you can learn how to say it correctly," said Wells.

Wells said this project plays at important role in the cultural revitalization called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 

The books are being distributed into communities in the province by the FNUC education program, and will also be distributed to local school and community libraries across Canada.

"We're putting the books in the hands of our teacher interns who are working in schools so that they can take them to kids in the community," said Wells.

Wells said that FNUC is planning to work further with Prince's Charities Canada to bring more books in more languages across the province and the country.