Speaking Michif: Unique language of the Metis people
Introduction to Minjmendaan
is Ojibwe for
"to keep in mind;
to remember"
Native Heritage
Minjmendaan, Summer 2003
In this issue:

100th Anniversary of Killarney's oldest hotel

Julia Peladeau of the Wapoose family

Michif: Unique language of the Metis people

News from the past:
Golden wedding at
       Killarney, 1899

Pilot rescues  
       fishermen from
       drifting ice, 1940

Remembering Killarney's Angel: Nancy Pitfield

The sad death of Andre Proulx

The Lourdes Grotto of St. Bonaventure parish

The Metis sash

Descendants of Ezekiel Solomon reunite

From the cookbook of Josephine Low

The sacred tree

The Metis are descendants of the unions between Aboriginal and European peoples. Their ancestry may be Ojibwe-French, Cree-Irish, or any other combination of the red and white races.
Michif: "Sa prend lee famee di Michif chee shoohkshichik kispin la Nation di Michif chee shoohkawk."

English translation: "We must have strong Metis families to have a strong Metis Nation."

A Michif prayer by Norman Fleury in Taanishi Kiya, Michif Revival Strategy, Metis National Council, April 2000.
The cultural identity of the Metis is influenced by Aboriginal and European customs, values, and language.

In western Canada, Michif, the language of the Metis, is a mix of French nouns and Cree verbs. As on moves east across Canada, some Ojibwe verbs and nouns are also included.
Peter Bakker, at the Institute for Linguistics in Aarhus, Denmark, regards Michif as an unusual language for several reasons. It belongs to two language families at the same time (Algonquian and Indo-European). It is distinct from other languages which arose out of Aboriginal-European contact because it is not a trade language, nor is it pidgin, Creole, or a result of second language acquisition.

It is not simply a combination of two languages, says Bakker. No other mixed language has virtually all of its nouns coming from one language and all of its verbs from another.

Once in widespread use, today very few people speak Michif. Various organizations are researching and organizing teaching programs in an effort to keep this unique language from disappearing. In 1998, the Metis National Council began working to preserve and teach Michif. The Manitoba Metis Federation published the first Canadian Michif Language Dictionary (Pemmican Publications in Winnipeg, Manitoba). For more information, visit the site www.metisnation.ca

Days of the Week in Michif

Jimawnsh -- Sunday
Laenjee -- Monday
Morjee -- Tuesday
Mikarjee -- Wednesday
Zhweejee -- Thursday
Vaundarjee --  Friday
Samjee -- Saturday

Counting in Michif

Aen (payyek) -- One
Deu -- Two
Trwaw -- Three
Kaet -- Four
Saenk -- Five
Sis -- Six
Set -- Seven
Wit -- Eight
Naef -- Nine
Jis -- Ten