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Canadian parliament hears address in Kanien’kéha

Montreal MP Marc Miller was motivated to make Mohawk heard to launch National Aboriginal History Month yesterday, as he delivered an address entirely in Kanien’kéha in parliament. (Daniel J. Rowe, The Eastern Door)

Before question period in the House of Commons in Ottawa yesterday, Ville Marie-Sud Ouest-Nuns’ Island member of parliament (MP) Marc Miller delivered a minute-long address entirely in Kanien’kéha to mark the beginning of National Aboriginal History Month.

“It’s the beginning of National Aboriginal History Month and a lot of us are making statements regarding that,” said Miller.

In the minute, Miller worked to annunciate the address, and call attention to the country’s need to encourage and support Indigenous languages across the country.

“I’m thanking everyone around me, and I thank the creator briefly, and I make a plea for more use of the Mohawk language among us to help reconciliation,” said Miller.

Brian Maracle is the program coordinator at the Onkwawenna Kentyohkwa Kanien’kéha language school in Six Nations and helped Miller with his speech.

Miller spoke about how nervous he was before reading the speech.

“I’m horribly nervous to read it,” said Miller “Public speaking is always out of my comfort zone, so it makes me prepare more, and, one, there’s a very symbolic element to it that I don’t quite grasp. I keep having people saying that it’s really cool that I’m doing it, and I’m just doing it, and then the more I hear it, the more nervous I get, and then there’s the words.”

The complexity of the language is something Miller, who speaks English, French and Swedish, has struggled to understand, and wants to get down as well as possible.
That, and the length of some words caused Miller a few sleepless nights figuring out.

“There’s literally some words in here that are like 67 letters,” he said. “Worse case, I hope people get a good laugh.”

Miller spoke to The Eastern Door about some of the other initiatives the Liberal government is engaged in to encourage Indigenous language and culture.

“We’ve got all our budget undertaking in the languages area to put about $89-90 million into pushing Indigenous languages, allowing community to develop their resources,” said Miller. “Then we have the traditional envelopes that we’ve increased for anything that has to do with INAC-related investments.”

Miller also plans to play in a traditional lacrosse game June 13 with players from Kahnawake, organized by Sterling Deer.

“We have a number of things going on across the country, continuing our dialogue with First Nations leaders,” said Miller.

The positive vibes from his party were somewhat tainted last week with the Human Rights Tribunal ruling that said Canada had failed to implement Jordan’s Principle properly and that it was affecting First Nations children negatively.

Miller responded to ruling, which is the third by the tribunal.

“There have been a number of them,” said Miller. “We’ve got to do more and it’s clear that in our minds we’re not doing enough. Justice people will say that they need to take the time to review the decision and take the proper action, and I agree with that.

“You can never take these rulings for granted. You have to sit down and see what they mean and see where we’re coming short because for every one of those that are coming through the system, there’s probably many more going unreported and un-discussed and that’s where the prejudice is coming from.”

Miller was not content with blaming past governments and wants his to be more proactive in its approach to Onkwehón:we issues.

“This government chose to shine the light on a number of issues, and at some point you’ve got to take responsibility for what the light shows, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Miller. “There’s a lot of stuff going on that isn’t pretty. We’re showing it and we’ve got to be responsible for it.”

Below is a copy of the speech MP Mark Miller delivered in parliament in Ottawa yesterday. Miller was aided by Kanien’kéha teacher Brian Maracle from Six Nations.

Wa’tkwanonhwerá:ton í:se nè:ne kén:’en sewaia’tarò:ron.

Kenh íkete takewennakará:tate’ ne Kanien’kehá:ka na’kawennò:ten tahnon wa’tekhenonhwerá:ton ne raononkwè:ta.

Tetshitewanonhwerá:ton ne Shonkwaia’tíson ne akwé:kon tehshonkwá:wi ne káti skén:nen aetewanonhtonniónhseke.

Wakerihwa’sè:se akétake ne kèn:tho akwahthárhahse’ ne Kanien’kéha.

Aiá:wenhs tsi enionkwaia’takénha’ sénha aionkwatenro’tsherí:iohste’.

Aiá:wenhs ó:ni tsi é:so sénha iotká:te aiakothón:te’ne’ ne Kenien’kéha ne kèn:tho, tahnon sénha nihá:ti Korahró:non enhotirihwa’sè:seke én:hontste tahontathárhahse’.

Wa’tkonnonhwerá:ton í:se Satenonhsahsteríhstha.

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