SMITH, N.W.T. - There's a community effort to revive the Chipewyan
language in Fort Smith.
who speak Chipewyan, a member of the Athapascan linguistic group,
live in the area from the Slave River to Cold Lake in Alberta, and
from Heart Lake east to Reindeer Lake in north-central Saskatchewan.
older people are still fluent in Chipewyan, it's rare to hear the
language spoken in homes in Fort Smith, a community of about 2,100
on the N.W.T.-Alberta border.
language co-ordinator Toni Heron would like to change that.
she no longer speaks the language, as a child she was fluent.
something we've kind of lost but now we know the importance of language
and we need to bring it back into the homes and also help our children
learn the language," she says.
office is wallpapered with colorful drawings by children from the
Chipewyan language classes.
year olds are learning the days of the week, their numbers and colors
at the aboriginal Head Start program.
full-time instructor teaches Chipewyan at the elementary school,
and there are evening classes for adults.
Heron says more needs to be done to get the language back into homes.
proposal is to develop Chipewyan language programs on CD-ROMs that
can be used by families with computers.
efforts may be aided by a meeting this week about 160 kilometers
away, in Fort Resolution.
translators, and elders who speak Chipewyan are trying to standardize
the language so it will be easier to both teach and learn.
are also developing an alphabet based on roman characters instead
of syllabics, and teaching tools for the classroom.