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Speaking up! Students make case for language

Public Speaking Contest

The mood in the Mitchuap Celebration Hall in Chisasibi was taut with friendly competition the evening of April 16, 2019, as students poured over their cue cards in preparation for their big moment at the podium. The theme for the 2019 CSB Regional Public Speaking Contest, hosted this year by James Bay Eeyou School, was "Honouring the International Year of Indigenous Languages."

Isabelle Dixon of Waswanipi won first place in both the Cree and English categories; Ritvisha Gobin (Chisasibi) won first place in the French category.

Public Speaking Winner Isabelle DixonPublic Speaking Winner Ritvisha Gobin

Students could choose from four questions:

  1. How do elders use the Cree language to teach you about life, culture and the land?
  2. Is it important for someone to know more than one language?
  3. English and French are the official languages of Canada. How do you keep the Cree language alive?
  4. What is beautiful about your language?

Presentations focused on the importance of language to one's identity and offered ideas about how to preserve the Cree language. Many students touched on the residential school era as proof of the resilience of Cree language. 

"The Cree language runs through our veins," said one student. 

Public Speaking Judges

Four judges for each language category marked each student's presentation according to a prepared rubric that included the depth of the argument, the logic of the argument, presentation style, performance, and more. 

Emceed by Chisasibi Youth Chief Steven Tapiatic, the evening flowed seamlessly and included a vocal performance by Lucie Sam. Students in first, second and third places in each category won a framed certificate along with a monetary prize.

Public Speaking Steven Tapiatic

The community with the highest combined score - Waswanipi for the second year in a row - won the honour to bring the silver trophy home until next year. 

Category1st place2nd place3rd place
Cree Isabelle Dixon (Waswanipi) Lukas Polson (Waskaganish) Jocelyne Martinhunter Saganash (Ouje-Bougoumou)
English Isabelle Dixon (Waswanipi) Ashley Bosum Alook (Ouje-Bougoumou) Jessalyn Grace House Moses (Chisasibi)
French Ritvisha Gobin (Chisasibi) Susannah Roberts Gull (Waswanipi) Reshawn Matoush-Metabie (Mistissini)

An honourable mention went to Zackary Esperon Mamianskum from Whapmagoostui who spoke very briefly about keeping the Cree language alive in the English category to resounding applause.

In addition, congratulations to all who bravely participated: Joshua Moses (Eastmain), Mario Neeposh (Mistissini), Layla Moses (Waskaganish), Lukas Polson (Waskaganish), and Lisa Marie Bearskin (Mistissini).

 

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