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First Words: Ian McCallum speaks Munsee
CBC Radio Â· Posted: Apr 02, 2019 10:54 AM ET | Last Updated: April 8
https://www.cbc.ca/radio/unreserved/fir … -1.5080254 (audio file at the link)
Ian McCallum is a Munsee language educator. (Ian McCallum)
First Words is a weekly podcast focused on Indigenous languages. Each week, we welcome a new guest into the hosting chair to teach us three words in their language.
In this episode of First Words, educator Ian McCallum teaches you how to say "kii haa koolamalsi?" Munsee for "how are you feeling?", "noolamalis" which means "I am fine" and "anushiik" which means "thank you."
Ian McCallum is a member of the Munsee Delaware Nation in southern Ontario, and he speaks Munsee.
McCallum grew up hearing his great-grandfather and grandmother speaking Munsee. But "the pressures of French language and English language" prevented him from becoming fluent in Munsee, explained McCallum.
It wasn't until he was in his 20s that McCallum decided to re-learn Munsee.
McCallum recalled the conversation that prompted his Munsee re-education. Sitting at a bar in Hamilton with his family, McCallum asked: "It's great that we learned French. And I can muddle my way through French. But why am I not learning our traditional language?"
After that, McCallum searched for people and language resources that could teach him the language.
Through friends, McCallum was connected with a Munsee language teacher, Dianne Snake, in the nearby Delaware Nation at Moraviantown. Snake taught McCallum on her lunch breaks in the Band Office, he said.
Snake gave McCallum books to read in Munsee. "There was no easy route into that, getting back into the language," he said.
The difficulty of the books increased quickly, recalled McCallum. "Going from something simple like Three Little Kittens to Goldilocks and the Three Bears."
"I have a great appreciation of Goldilocks and the Three Bears," said McCallum, with a laugh.
It's a book that McCallum has since shared with his two children. "My own kids and I got to read that story together. When they were younger, I would read the books to them."
Today, McCallum is one of the more proficient speakers from his community.
"I never thought I'd get to this point where, you know, people are accessing me for language, or accessing me for support."
McCallum works as an educator and he helps facilitate language and culture workshops on the Munsee Delaware Nation. "I take the role very seriously," said McCallum.
"This is my way of giving back for a community that has supported me all of my life. And my talent just happens to be being able to learn a language, and hopefully being able to share it in a good way."