Transcript: Introducing Myself in My Language Is Political | May 07, 2019

A young man steps up to the screen against a white background.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Chris Beaver. Indigenous Affairs."

Chris is in his thirties, with long wavy brown hair and a boxed beard. He's wearing a black shirt.

He says AANIIN,
CHRIS BEAVER
INDIZHINIKAAZ,
ALDERVILLE
INDOONJIBAA,
TORONTO
ENDAYAAN NOONGOM.
THIS IS HOW I INTRODUCE MYSELF
IN ANISHINAABEMOWIN,
OR OJIBWAY AS I CALLED IT
GROWING UP.
IF YOU'RE MORE FLUENT THAN I AM
YOU MIGHT BE LAUGHING AT
MY PRONUNCIATION,
WHICH IS PROBABLY EVEN WORSE
THAN MY VOCABULARY.

A caption appears that reads "Definitely worse."

Chris nods, then says
NOW, SOME OF YOU MIGHT BE
WONDERING:
"WHY IS THIS WHITE
JESUS-LOOKALIKE
SPEAKING OJIBWAY TO ME?"

He holds his hands together as if praying.

(CHOIR HARMONIZING)

He says TRUST ME, I'M NO STRANGER
TO SKEPTICAL QUESTIONS LIKE:

Text appears on screen that reads "You're native? How native are you? What are you, like one sixteenth?

Chris continues
I AM ANISHINAABE
FROM MY FATHER'S SIDE.
I HAVE STATUS AND I GREW UP
ON RESERVE.
I EVEN HAVE AN ANIMAL-THEME
LAST NAME: BEAVER.
AND I'M GLAD THAT THE GOVERNMENT
COULD HAVE A LITTLE FUN
WHEN THEY RENAMED MY ANCESTORS.
WAS THAT SARCASTIC ENOUGH?

A male voice SAYS NO.

Chris continues AND I'M GLAD THE GOVERNMENT
COULD HAVE A LITTLE FUN
WHEN THEY RENAMED MY ANCESTORS.

He frowns sarcastically, then continues
THE TRUTH IS I CARE ABOUT
LEARNING ANISHINAABEMOWIN.
AND FOR ME IT'S POLITICAL.
I'M A PRODUCT OF
FORCED ASSIMILATION.
JUST LET THAT SINK IN.
IT'S WHY I DIDN'T GET TO LEARN
THE LANGUAGE FROM MY PEOPLE.
FOR GENERATIONS,
THEY WERE FORBIDDEN TO SPEAK
THEIR NATIVE TONGUE.
SO TODAY I'M RELEARNING IT
BECAUSE I CAN.
I JUST DON'T WANT TO
WASTE THAT CHOICE.
UNFORTUNATELY, THERE'S NOT
MUCH OPPORTUNITY
TO PRACTISE IT IN CONVERSATION.
ACCORDING TO THE UNITED NATIONS,
OJIBWAY IS A CRITICALLY
ENDANGERED LANGUAGE.

A picture shows the entrance to the United Nations building.

Chris continues WHEN I INTRODUCE MYSELF
IN MY LANGUAGE
I'M PROUD TO TELL PEOPLE
THAT I'M FROM ALDERVILLE
FIRST NATION.

A picture shows a pale blue billboard that reads "Alderville First Nation. Established 1837. Mississaugas of Rice Lake."

Chris continues MY RESERVE ANCHORS MY IDENTITY.
LIVING THERE MADE IT POSSIBLE
FOR ME TO TAKE OJIBWAY CLASSES
IN SCHOOL,
WHICH IS PROGRESS CONSIDERING
MY FATHER AND HIS PARENTS
WEREN'T EVEN ALLOWED
TO SPEAK IT.

A black and white picture shows children posing in a classroom. Text on a chalkboard behind them reads "Alnwick Indian Day School. November 15, 1954."

A caption reads "Courtesy Brian Beaver."

Chris continues YET DAMAGE HAS BEEN DONE
AND NOW ALMOST EVERY
INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE IN CANADA
FACES THE THREAT OF EXTINCTION.
IN FEBRUARY, 2019,
THE GOVERNMENT UNVEILED
BILL C-91,
AN ACT RESPECTING
INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES,
WHICH HAS BEEN MET WITH
MIXED REVIEWS
AND LOTS OF CRITICISM
FROM INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES.

As Chris speaks, footage plays of Government Officials giving a statement.

Chris continues IMMIGRANTS IN CANADA CAN PASS LANGUAGE ONTO THEIR CHILDREN,
CONNECTING THEM TO THEIR CULTURE
AND EMPOWERING THEM WITH
SELF-ESTEEM AND CONFIDENCE,
YET INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES
WERE FORBIDDEN TO DO SO
WHICH IS A TRAGEDY.

Pictures flash by of people welcoming immigrants to Canada.

Chris continues LANGUAGE IS HOW WE TRANSMIT
CULTURE
AND IT'S A BUILDING BLOCK FOR ME
WHEN I THINK ABOUT
OUR GENERATION
AND RECLAIMING WHO WE ARE.
CHI-MIIGWECH.

An end slate reads "Video by Chris Beaver. Production Support, Matthew O'Mara, Allana McDougall. Manager of Digital Video, Hannah Sung."

Watch: Introducing Myself in My Language Is Political