Many forget the partnerships we of European decent once formed with the revered Plains Cree to create this great province of Saskatchewan (a Cree name).
As a white man in a native country I look around and I am disturbed by the lack of engagement in the Cree nation from the rest of Canadian culture. Is French really more natural to me in Saskatchewan than Plains Cree?
Do I really have more in common with the francophone culture? Are the issues with language in Quebec so much more important than the issues we have right here with a great people who once defined our nation and now are pushed to the margins.
I am tired of being part of the indifference.
Why do I know so many random words from random languages around the world and yet I don't even know what Cree sounds like? Well I do know what Cree sounds like now because I took a class to learn to speak and read it at First Nations University Of Canada. I am tired of being part of the indifference. It's time to reengage with the plains people and unify our interests under Canada.
Every distinct society has its own unique list of competitive advantages. The Cree are one of our greatest. Their wisdom, sense of history and family, loyalty to nature and all living things is an asset we should be studying and exporting the world over. They fight for this country everyday, and patiently endure ridicule, social stigma, economic brinkmanship, and perhaps worst of all the indifference of their neighbours and government.
Learning Cree, any dialect at all, is a simple way to improve Saskatchewan and break down cultural ignorance. Not by "finding a place" for the Indian but rather finding a place for ourselves without taking that place away from someone else. First Nations can take care of themselves, but can only rise to greatness in today's world if they have firm and reliable partners. I'd like to be one of those partners in Saskatchewan.
As more Saskatchewan people learn the language, even a little bit of it, and commit to a solid understanding of our shared history, revenues will most certainly increase. Opportunities will present, relationships will form, and new history will be written. A mutual prosperity will take hold and we will all be proud of the economy we've built...together.
Fun Fact: There are three dialects of Cree spoken in Saskatchewan, the 'th', 'n' and the 'y'. Lac La Ronge Cree Nation, Montreal Lake Cree Nation, and Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation speak the Woodland Cree*