Linguist calls for Cree language on Regina street signs
Nick Wells, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, February 2, 2017 6:58AM EST
A linguist is calling for the city of Regina to have the Cree language written on street signs in a Regina neighbourhood, in an effort to raise awareness about preserving the First Nations language.
Solomon Ratt, an associate professor at First Nations University of Canada, says Cree was one of Canada's first written languages, and he'd like to see it recognized for its historical importance.
"It gives us pride in our language and our culture," he told CTV Regina, adding that it will stir discussion about preserving the language.
Ratt wants the language to be added to street signs in Regina's North Central neighbourhood, which has a large indigenous population.
The proposal has precedent in the city, with Chinese characters gracing street signs in Regina's Heritage neighbourhood.
City officials say the process would require careful consultation.
"It's just a matter of getting approval for that and going through the process of consultation," said Dana Turgeon, the historical information and preservation supervisor for the city. "Because Treaty 4 has a lot of language groups and we'd want to know we're using the most appropriate language group."
Treaty 4 is a treaty established by Queen Victoria and First Nations bands in southern Saskatchewan, western Manitoba and southeastern Alberta.
North Central residents are backing the initiative, arguing it would foster education in the community.
"It will be a change for the younger generation, growing up I never learned my own language," said Joanne Lerat.
One community resident is already pushing for a similar proposal.
Joely Big Eage-Kequahtooway is supporting Ratt’s proposal, having earlier petitioned the city to rename a street to honour local First Nations. She says recognizing indigenous residents would follow the example being set by other communities around the world.
"I look at New Zealand. Aoeteroa as an example," she said. "A lot of their street names is in Maori, they adopted the Maori language as the second official language."
Big Eagle-Kequahtooway says she will meet with Ratt in the coming days and see if they can work together.
With a report from CTV Regina's Creeson Agecoutay