Perspectives

“I’m passionate about the spiritual aspect of language because essentially that’s what it’s all about.”

– Gabe Desrosiers

Speakers share perspectives related to language, culture, worldviews and the future.

Snxakila (Clyde Tallio), Nuxalk

Spirit, origins, and clearing the path for future generations
5:32

Nang King.aay ‘uwans / James Young, Haida

Traditional storytelling training / clans, crests and the supernatural beings
6:08

Brian Maracle, Kenyen’keha / Mohawk

The Thanksgiving Address and strength​
4:03

Dr. Marianne Ignace, Canadian / Settler,
Linguist, Secwépemc and Haida speaker

“I don’t think in the end it’s so much that one language can’t describe the world versus another one can. In the end we can translate, and if we work really hard we can come up with really good translations. Look at literature. Shakespeare has been translated into all sorts of languages and people get the flavor. And so has French literature, and German literature, and so on and so forth. But I think it’s sort of the flavor of those particular little compacted ways in which languages can express something in a unique way that we can circumscribe in translation, but we can never quite hit that bullet the way a certain language can.”

Bonnie Whitlow, Kanyen’keha / Mohawk

“Other people, the immigrants, the people who come here have one thing that we cannot have. They have the opportunity to leave and go to their homelands and return to where their languages are and return to where their cultures are. We’ve been so completely blanketed in all of this stuff, that it’s a whole exercise just to live an authentic life for us… Whereas other people have an opportunity to say: things in North America just aren’t working for me, I’m going to go back to Czechoslovakia or Russia or Japan and go back to where things are true and authentic and real. And we don’t have that luxury, we have to re-create that type of existence for ourselves. We can’t go anywhere else to find it.”

Gabe Desrosiers, Anishinaabemowin

“When I teach Anishinaabemowin, I’m passionate about the spiritual aspect of language because essentially that’s what it’s all about. It’s embedded in our understanding of our relationships, our storytelling, our reciprocity with Mother Earth and all living things… Everything that we did was in the language, and that’s how the spirits understand us, even today.”

Art Napoleon, Cree

“And right off the bat, Cree worldview is anti-entitlement. Humans are seen not to own anything. We’re seen to coexist with what’s around us. And we can harness nature and work in partnership with it for the benefit of us. But one of our teachings is not to overexploit it, to save some for the future. So I think those kinds of teachings could definitely guide society.

 

“We have teachings that are about Witigo, greedy, cannibal, devours everything. And that’s what the western capitalist mindset is. It’s like a Witigo, they’re never freaking satisfied. It’s about perpetual growth. How is that any different than Witigo? A cannibal that will eat its own people. That’s what western capitalism has become and I know originally it was not designed that way. Capitalism has changed and the power has shifted. The rich are in control. The banks are in control, certain countries are in control. Certain industries are in control and it’s all based on exploitation. I think all of those practices go against Cree worldview, the real Cree worldview.”

David Maracle, Kanyen’keha / Mohawk
Linguist

“A language like Mohawk has an incredible amount of pronominal prefixes or pronouns that create a sense of relationship.

 

“We do that all the time when we’re speaking, we can’t say anything without creating whatever that relationship is. That isn’t there in English. You could speak all day long and never really indicate any sort of relationship between yourself and whatever it is you’re talking about. (laughs)”

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