Gwich'in language revitalization campaign starts on facebook - APTN NewsAPTN News

Gwich’in language revitalization campaign starts on facebook



1h Song Challenge - Drin Gwiinzii

Firth Jacey and I collaborated on last week's song, Drin Gwiinzii, which is Gwich'in for "Good Afternoon". To learn more about the Gwi'chin language and the SpeakGwich'in ToMe campaign, please visit their facebook page. Words and translation are as follows: Aanaii shi'jah, oohadhaoocheii shi'jah (translation: Come here, my friend) Aanaii shi'jah, oohadhaoocheii shi'jah (translation: Listen, my friend) Speak Gwich'in to me, Speak Gwich'in to me Drin gwiinzii shi'jah, chiitaii gwiinzii shi'jah (translation: good afternoon, my friend. it's nice outside, my friend.) Drin gwiinzii shi'jah, chiitaii gwiinzii shi'jah (translation: good afternoon, my friend. it's nice outside, my friend.) Speak Gwich'in to me, Speak Gwich'in to me Edikan'yantii nidivee goozu', edikan'yantii nidivee goozu', (translation: take care, good luck on your path) Edikan'yantii nidivee goozu', edikan'yantii nidivee goozu',(translation: take care, good luck on your path) Speak Gwich'in to me, speak Gwich'in to me

Posted by Natasha Duchene on Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Iman Kassam
APTN National News
Jacey Firth-Hagen is trying to save one of the fastest dying Indigenous languages in the country.

“I want people know that the Gwich’in language, and many other Indigenous languages, are being threatened and they’re not always going to be here unless we do something now,” said Firth-Hagen.

Gwich’in is spoken throughout the Beaufort Delta region of the Northwest Territories, northern Yukon, and into eastern Alaska. According to UNESCO, it is a severely endangered language with fewer than 400 fluent speakers left in the world. That’s five per cent of Gwich’in people who speak their traditional language.

Firth-Hagen wants to give Gwich’in people some easy tools to help them learn their language. So she started the Gwich’in Language Revitalization Campaign on Facebook, using the hashtag #SpeakGwichinToMe.

She was inspired by the Sami people of northern Europe, who started the #SpeakSamiToMe movement. Over the past year, #SpeakGwichinToMe has become a hub where people can share words, ask questions and get pronunciation guides.

“It’s been so amazing being able to connect the Gwich’in Nation from Alaska, to the Yukon, to the Northwest Territories. We’re all participating in dialogue,” she told APTN. “It’s all about raising awareness towards the importance of the Indigenous languages and getting the Gwich’in Nation involved in something positive that we can all strive towards.”

Firth-Hagen isn’t fluent in Gwich’in yet, but she is learning one word a day, recording it on Soundcloud, and posting it online so that others can learn with her.

She also said that singing is the easiest way to learn a new language. So she teamed up with a Yellowknife singer-songwriter, Natasha Duchene, to write a song called “Drin Gwiinzii”, which means “good afternoon”.

Lyrics:

Aanaii shi’jah, oohadhaoocheii shi’jah (translation: Come here, my friend)
Aanaii shi’jah, oohadhaoocheii shi’jah (translation: Listen, my friend)
Speak Gwich’in to me,
Speak Gwich’in to me
Drin gwiinzii shi’jah, chiitaii gwiinzii shi’jah (translation: good afternoon, my friend. it’s nice outside, my friend.)
Drin gwiinzii shi’jah, chiitaii gwiinzii shi’jah (translation: good afternoon, my friend. it’s nice outside, my friend.)
Speak Gwich’in to me,
Speak Gwich’in to me
Edikan’yantii nidivee goozu‘, edikan’yantii nidivee goozu‘, (translation: take care, good luck on your path)
Edikan’yantii nidivee goozu‘, edikan’yantii nidivee goozu‘,(translation: take care, good luck on your path)
Speak Gwich’in to me, speak Gwich’in to me

Firth-Hagen said this song is one of many to come.

“The only thing that I’ve ever really been interested in, that’s inspired me, that’s motivated me, is to learn the Gwich’in language. In high school I didn’t have many interests, and when I graduated I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she said. “It’s always been close to my heart to learn Gwich’in.”

From street signs to songs, her ultimate goal is to see the Gwich’in language completely integrated into Gwich’in communities.

ikassam@aptn.ca

 

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