Mi’kmaq, also known as Micmac, Mi’gmaq, and Miigmao is an Eastern Algonquian language spoken by approximately 11,000 of the 20,000 Mi’kmaq in Canada and the United States.

The significant reduction in Mi’kmaq speakers witnessed over the last century is mainly due to the introduction of Residential Schools where Mi’kmaq children were forbidden from speaking in their own tongue. Thus, when these Residential School survivors became adults and had children of their own, their language was all but forgotten and not passed on to the next generation. The language’s official status is “threatened” although the communities in which it is spoken are doing everything they can to keep the language alive, something you will no doubt have noticed in the episode filmed in Nova Scotia.

Each Mi’kmaq community has a committee dedicated to promoting the language and culture of their ancestors, many schools in Mi’kmaq communities now teach Mi’kmaq from kindergarten to Grade 12, and even Cape Breton University’s Unama’ki College specializes in Mi’kmaq history, culture and education.

Below are some basic Mi’kmaq words, some of which you may have heard in the episode:

Jínm – Man
Épit – Woman
Nákúset – Sun
Tepkunset – Moon
Samqwan – Water
Imúj – Dog
Tiyám – Moose
Kitpu – Eagle
Etlintoq – Sing
8 feb. 2016
26 mar. 2017 | Stewart Cook
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