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Animated Videos Keep Aboriginal Languages Alive

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Tshakapesh is back!

After producing a successful set of language videos detailing the mythical character’s adventures, the Société de Communication Atikamekw–Montagnais (SOCAM) has received C$50,000 in funding from the Canadian government to make four more.

SOCAM will create four animated children’s videos relating further adventures of Tshakapesh, who factors in the Innu creation myth. Produced in Atikamekw and Innu, the educational videos are a vehicle introducing vocabulary used in science and technology, SOCAM said. Videos can be viewed on SOCAM’s website, with DVDs distributed to elementary schools in the Atikamekw and Innu communities, the organization said.

The goal is “to preserve and revitalize aboriginal languages for the benefit of future generations of aboriginal people and other Canadians,” said SOCOM’s Jan. 25 statement.

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“We are happy that we can follow up on the adventures of Tshakapesh. The first series of educational videos was received quite enthusiastically, and we will try to ensure that the second is even more successful,” explained Bernard Hervieux, executive director of SOCAM. “This project allows us not only to promote our language, but also to demonstrate that our language, like our culture, can be adapted to today’s world.”

This is the second C$50,000 grant that SOCOM has received, both under the Aboriginal Languages Initiative, which is part of the Aboriginal Peoples’ Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage, according to the press release.

Government officials said the grant reflects the usefulness of such videos in preserving heritage.

“These animated videos are an innovative tool for passing on the Atikamekw and Innu languages to children in Quebec Aboriginal communities,” said Josée Verner, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, Minister for La Francophonie and Member of Parliament (Louis-Saint-Laurent), in announcing the grant. “Through its funding, the government of Canada is supporting SOCAM’s efforts to preserve these two languages for the long term.”