Monday, September 20, 2010

How much is your language worth?

“Rock ‘n’ rolling off the mother tongue.
Native musician seeks to entertain with translations of classic pop tunes into Cree, but his work also has a serious side.”

So read the headline in the GLOBE AND MAIL published September 20, 2010 and written by a Tom Hawthorn.

As an Aboriginal person (Inuit) of Canada, I must commend the Aboriginal (First Nations) musician featured in the above noted article. Apparently, an Art Napolean, whose mother tongue is a dialect of a northern woodlands cree has recorded his newest album entitled, “Creeland Covers” and is sung almost entirely in Cree. His songs, apparently, cover well-known songs first recorded by the Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Hank Williams, and amongst others, Neil Young.

Apparently, not all Aboriginal people have lost their native language as a result of their experience of the former residential school system. A good thing.

However, the recent “Common Experience Payment” afforded to all those Survivors who experienced residential school including myself was heavily weighted based on loss of language and culture. While in residential school, I could not speak my native language as it was lost but, I can remember a lot of the First Nations students had conversed in their own native language on a daily basis. A good thing.

Given the “Common Experience Payment” afforded to all Survivors of residential school, was it fair that someone who could still speak his/her native language received the same amount as I did….one who had a true loss of language.

Lucky for the First Nations musician, Art Napolean, he can still speak his native language and has captitalized on that fact in recording his new album. Unlike him, my native language is lost. Not a good thing.