the early nineteen hundreds, prior to the residential school
era, the Cree language was in a good state of vocalisation.
When the residential school era came into affect, children
were taken away from their families and placed in schools
many miles away from their homes. Cree children were forbidden
to speak their language and severely punished if they did.
Psychologically, the children placed in residential schools
were brainwashed into thinking that their native culture
and language were evil. Many residential school students
went back to their home reserves not wanting any part of
their native culture or language. The residential school
staff made the children’s lives a living hell. Students
were ashamed to speak their language or felt ashamed to
hear it spoken.
A language census survey was distributed to all the bands
in Saskatchewan. Many bands completed the survey, some
have yet to complete it, while others did not participate
at all. At this time the survey is inconclusive.
In the Qu’Appelle areas, the language is seldom
heard or spoken. In the central part of Saskatchewan,
the language is spoken within a limited vocabulary. In
the Meadow Lake area the language is articulated a bit
more than what is heard in central Saskatchewan. Within
the Prince Albert area, the language is heard on a regular
basis. The language is spoken more fluently in the north-eastern
part of Saskatchewan in areas such as the Lac La Ronge
and Creighton localities.
people believe that language is their identity and it
is what keeps the culture strong. When there is no Native
language, there is no native culture. Language is the
lifeblood that feeds the striving identity of Aboriginal
people. Once the language is lost, there is no hope of
retrieving it. The plain and simple reality is that there
is no motherland where Aboriginal people can go to retrace
and relearn their language, for this is our motherland.
The French language in Canada is quite prominent. If the
French language was to be lost in Canada, the language
speakers could pick it back up from the motherland of
the French language. If the Ukrainian language was forgotten
here in Canada, the Ukrainian language would still exist
in the motherland of the Ukraine. The same cannot be said
of the Bella Bella in British Columbia, or the Beothuk
language in Newfoundland or any native tongue in Canada.