The Witatoshkimitotan Mitho-Pimatisiwin program will offer Cree Language and Culture teachings to children.

The program will be run by local elders who will teach one or two phrases or sentences in Cree each week, with the addition of cultural teachings each week as well.

The program will operate by grouping local resource elders with two or three children each in the hopes of building friendship, kinship, and mentorship.

Sylvia Clarke is the program’s creator and organizer; she said that the program was created as a way to help prevent youth from losing their language. “Kids are losing their language in our community. I noticed that kids are just speaking English and no Cree, so that’s why I thought it would be a good project to do with the youth, to start speaking Cree at home. They can learn from this program with our elders; the cultural component is another part of it that they will learn each week after they learn Cree; after they learn that one phrase, then there’s the culture part too,” she said.

Alongside learning the Cree language, cultural teachings will also take place as part of the program, such as filleting fish, skinning animals, survival skills, making or tanning moose or deer hides, making traps or snowshoes, and more. 

“I went to a forum for George Principal in Saskatoon, and that’s where I got the idea; the workers are starting this program, and it’s working for them, so I thought I would try it up here myself and see how it goes,” said Clarke. “I already have 20 students whose parents signed them up, and I’ve got 10 elders, so I’m going to group two youths with each elder and see how that works.”

The new program is scheduled to begin operations on July 19 from 7 to 9 p.m.