A language survey of Michif in the North Slave region

Regions: North Slave Region

Tags: aboriginal language, linguistics, language, Metis

Principal Investigator: Saunders, Susan J (1)
Licence Number: 15202
Organization: University of Victoria
Licensed Year(s): 2013
Issued: Feb 04, 2013
Project Team: Bill Enge (Advisor, North Slave Metis Alliance), Sue Enge (North Slave Metis Alliance)

Objective(s): To determine the current status of the Michif language in the North Slave region by surveying Metis community members to find out the level of fluency of community members, their attitudes toward Michif, and their goals for the future of Michif in the community; and to compile this information into a Strategic Language Plan that the community can use to guide its language practices.

Project Description: The aim of this project is to determine the current status of the Michif language in the North Slave region by surveying Metis community members to find out the level of fluency of community members, their attitudes toward Michif, and their goals for the future of Michif in the community. The information will be compiled into a Strategic Language Plan that the community can use to guide its language practices.

Informal interviews will be conducted with Metis community members to survey their language practices. Interviews will be approximately half an hour. Community members will be contacted through the North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA). Informal interviews allow for increased engagement with community members over simply giving community members a paper survey to record their language practices while still providing the same information. The data collected in these interviews will be recorded on an audio recorder to capture the true voices of the community, as well as in a field journal.

The results of the survey will be shared with the community in a workshop or focus group, where the results can be discussed together. This group will consist of individuals who are keenly interested in Michif language revitalization, or any part of this research, and would like to become more involved. This group will meet on multiple occasions (2-5 times) for 2-4 hours. This group will also be responsible for providing input into the Strategic Language Plan, which will outline short term and long term goals for the community and action points on how to achieve these goals. The sessions will be recorded on audio and/or video tape. Additionally, photographs will be taken for use in the dissemination of the results, if permission is obtained from participants.

Finally, semi-structured in-depth interviews will be conducted with individuals who hold knowledge of Michif or Metis history in this region. These interviews will be approximately one hour and will be recorded on audio or video tape. These interviews will be transcribed and the conversations will be discussed in the focus group (as described above) as well as used in the dissemination process.

Local involvement is paramount to the success of linguistic fieldwork. Through partnership with the NSMA, the research team will be able to reach out to local people to assess the status of the Michif language through a language survey. The principal investigator is currently in the process of meeting people in the Metis community, and making ties with the community. Ideally, a committee of elders will advise the research team on the direction of the project. Local involvement will be crucial in conducting the interviews to find out the status of the Michif language. There will be in-depth discussions with people from the Metis community about their Michif language knowledge. There are many social and cultural benefits when undertaking language revitalization projects. The success of this community-based project hinges upon the collaboration and participation of community members.

All the results will be available to the Metis community as they are compiled. The results from the survey will be shared with those who are part of the focus group, and the research team will use those results to collaboratively create a Strategic Language Plan. The results of this study will also be made available to all of the NWT on the website of the NSMA in lay person vocabulary. The research team will also communicate the results of this study to the public by various media outlets that are interested in highlighting what is being done (newspaper, radio, etc.). The principle investigator’s thesis will delve into the rationale behind language surveys, report the results of this survey, and provide thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of the project. While all these results will be discussed and disseminated to the community, the principal investigator will also give the NSMA a copy of the thesis to add to their organization's collection of books.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from January 15, 2013 to December 31, 2013.