Pe Nehiyawek Cree Language Conference – Saddle Lake, Alberta Canada
It was my absolute privilege to be invited to attend the Saddle Lake Nation Cree Language conference as the keynote speaker. On 10 February, my son Tumai (10) and I left our shores and headed to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We were hosted by Leith Cardinal, Manager of the Onihcikiskowapowin Business Trust and Perry Large, which supported my travel costs and trustee. Our family made a decision to use some of our personal savings and take Tumai as my travel companion, so he could enjoy this cultural experience of a lifetime.

The conference was set within a native community reservation at Saddle Lake, and attended by elders, Cree language and community leaders, family members, school teachers, Blue Quill College master’s programme students and undergraduate students alike. My keynote speech promoted the importance of intergenerational transfer of language from parent to child, as an everyday living language in the home and community.

Highlights of the trip included the drive from Edmonton city to the Saddle Lake reservation in blizzard conditions, participating in the peace-pipe ceremony and other cultural practices, hearing the Cree language being spoken, celebrated and sung and also celebrating Tumai’s eleventh birthday with the Saddle Lake community in a circle dance. We learned so much from talking with the elders and other like-minded language activists. We enjoyed learning about their history and plight in ensuring that their Cree language continued to be spoken and used by their mokopuna, and of course drew on the many similarities we share, discussing the barriers and issues we are presented with as indigenous people in maintaining our values, language and traditions.

If anyone is interested in hearing more about the conference, please feel free to give me a ring or drop me an email at [email protected]

Nā Paulette Tamati-Elliffe.

Paulette Tamati-Elliffe at Saddle Lake, Alberta, Canada.