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Sacred Sounds Gathering in honour of our Language Keepers

Sacred Sounds Gathering in honour of our Language Keepers

Start: January 21, 2023 6:00 pm
End: January 21, 2023 10:00 pm
Galleries: archive Online
Streaming LIVE on January 21 at 6pm CST

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Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art

Welcome to The Sacred Sounds Gathering in honour of our Language Keepers

Saturday, 21 January, 2023

Performances by Jolene Wilson, United Thunder Square Dancers and The C-Weed band


Through a series of projects, Urban Shaman participates in the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022- 2023, and in the 2019 International year of Indigenous Languages, both global action calls for Indigenous language revitalization.

In this project, Sacred Sounds: The Legacy of Anishinaabemowin, we felt that as an Institution, it is necessary to set an example of what we think things should be like in every institution in 50 years. We also felt it was necessary to acknowledge the past work that has been done 50 years before us and how the landscape differed from today.

It’s been seven years since we’ve started researching. We have translated all our exhibitions, 11 essays, 2 partnerships, 2 bike tours posters, 2 bulk lists, 1 website, 1 mobile app, 1 public art installation, 1 publication with another one coming and other related language work and many great conversations and learning in the past 5 years. And we always get amazing feedback those who come to the gallery and see the translations. With this gathering, we want to say thank you to all of our Language Keepers for making all that possible.

Organized by: Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art is a nationally recognized leader in Aboriginal arts programming and one of the foremost venues and voices for Aboriginal art in Canada. Our focus on developing new programming and new ways of presenting it have resulted in increased exposure and the expansion of our activities. Urban Shaman is dedicated to the Aboriginal arts community and arts community at large.

Special thanks to The Winnipeg Foundation, C-Weed Band, Assiniboine Credit Union, and Benevity Fund for their support in this project.


Language Keepers:

Joseph Kenneth Paupanekis

Joseph Kenneth Paupanekis was born January 7, 1944 in a 16 by 20-foot log cabin in Norway House which is located on the banks of the Nelson River. Midwife was Margret Bone who was also the same midwife for three of my sisters. We were a family of 4 boys and 4 girls.

I started school at the age of 8 by rowing a boat for about a mile, full of my brothers, sisters and some cousins. The rest of the journey to school was by foot for another mile. It just became routine afterwards. During winter it was all by foot which was much easier. Students starting school late was very common at the time.

I finished grade 8 and took grade nine by correspondence as there was no high school to attend. In 1962 I left Norway House to take grade nine in Teulon, Manitoba. Leaving Norway House in late August and cruising for two and a half days on Lake Winnipeg on the M.S. Keenora, arrived in Selkirk on a Friday evening to be met by friends. I got to see and ride a car for the first time. It was a bit scary at first but got used to it. Good thing it was dark. Arrived in Teulon at 3 A.M.

I attended Teulon Collegiate for three years. I left Teulon in 1965 and enrolled at Garden City Collegiate and was in private home placement, an innovation for Indian Affairs at the time.

I did not have all my credits in Grade 12 but I was offered a permit reaching job (Island Lake). I was delighted as I always wanted to be a teachers.  I taught on permit for 3 years while completing the rest of my grade 12 during the summer months.

I met Lenore who was also a permit teacher. We got married in 1970 both went to university. After two years of university we were both certified teachers and went back to teach where we had met and got to know each other (Oxford House, MB). She already had a science degree then, so we got lucky and she found a job in Winnipeg two years later, so I can go back to school and go on to graduate school.

Most of my graduate studies were accomplished on part time bases, mainly through summer school and a few through independent studies.

In those years I earned the following degrees:

  • A. major in Psychology 1975 from Brandon University
  • Ed. in Cross Cultural Education 1976 from University of MB.
  • Ed. in Cross Cultural Education and Administration 1982 from the University of MB.

When we were expecting out first child, we went to Norway House in 1976 where I was given a job as a junior high ELA teacher.

Other jobs in the following years included:

  • Vice Principal of Jack River School 1977-80
  • Principal of Norway House High School 1980-85
  • Consultant for Native Languages Frontier School Division 1985-1998.
  • I left FSD in 1998 and taught at Brandon University in the Faculty of Education 1998 -2002.

I returned to Norway House in 2002 to be Area Superintendent for three years. I officially retired from the public-school education system in 2005.

Since retiring I teach the Cree language part time at the University of Manitoba, plus doing translations for different organizations.


Lorraine Coutu

Lorraine Coutu was born and raised in St Laurent, MB in1946. She is the 4th of 11 siblings to Baptiste & Marie Lavallee. Coutu has 4 daughters, 9 grandchildren & 4 great grandchildren. Lorraine’s parents taught her how to speak Michif French which is the only language that was spoken in their home.

Years later, in 2012, June, Agathe, Lorraine, Patsy & Doris got together & decided to write their language – which had never been written. They did it to revive their language and are very proud to preserve it for their children, grandchildren, & future generations. They self-published their book in 2016 which was an incredible achievement. Unfortunately, Patsy Miller & Doris Mikelayenko passed away not long after that.

Coutu says, “I know today that the language I was taught by my parents is the real Michif French. June, Agathe and myself were honoured at a special convocation during a graduation acknowledgement ceremony from University of Winnipeg where we received our doctorates, “Honorary Doctor of letters.”


Frank Beaulieu Andek Makwa Dinwemah

Frank Beaulieu Andek Makwa Dinwemah

Treaty from Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation Gawiikwendawagaak Located 3 hrs Northwest of Winnipeg. Frank was raised by his Grandparents where on Ojibway was first Language as well way of life was part of Culture in everyday life. Hunting Skills, gathering herbs and meat I remember the skills I developed in my journey was a gift of survival in the summer months.

Frank advanced today in working with 7 First Nations in Manitoba where he provides Interpreting, translating as well written orthography is used to create and provide Ojibway writing for further documentations.

Continued efforts in teaching and working toward surviving our Ojibway language in an excepting working hand and hand with with the English writing system.

Concludes by short Bio. Miigwetch Apidje


Wanbdi Wakita

Wanbdi Wakita has spent a lifetime making prayers for people. As a residential school survivor, Chief of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation and Sundance Chief, Wanbdi has walked many paths. For three decades he supported inmates in various Correctional Institutions. Presently he is the Grandfather in Residence for the University of Manitoba Access Program. In 2016 he received the Order of Manitoba for his lifelong work to champion a message of healing and unity between all nations. Wanbdi has been working on Dakota language revitalization since 1965 and is an active member of the Grandparent Council of the Manitoba Aboriginal Languages Strategy.


Patricia Ningewance

Patricia Ningewance is Ojibwe from Lac Seul First Nation in northwestern Ontario. Her Ojibwe name is Waabi-bizhikiikwe (White Buffalo Woman). She has traveled throughout Anishinaabe country where Ojibwe is spoken and tries to include all dialects in her books. She has previously written two language books: Survival Ojibwe and Anishinaabemodaa: Becoming a Successful Ojibwe Eavesdropper” (out of print). She has 40 years of experience in language teaching, translation and media work.

Ms. Ningewance has taught Introductory and Intermediate Ojibwe at the university level in Ontario and Manitoba for a combination of 19 years. She has also worked in Ojibwe language radio and television production. Her previous books are “Anishinaabemodaa: Becoming a Successful Ojibwe Eavesdropper” which is published by Aboriginal Languages of Manitoba, and “Survival Ojibwe”.


Solomon Ratt

Solomon Ratt was born on the banks of the Churchill River just north of the community of Stanley Mission. His parents were hunters and fishers who lived off the land, spending their winters on the trapline and summers fishing in La Ronge. Solomon spend the first six winters of his life with his parents who didn’t speak English. They knew the ways of the land, including the traditional stories passed down through generations, which they told to Solomon and his siblings.

At the age of six Solomon was abducted from his home and taken to the residential school in Prince Albert where he began his schooling. He attended Queen Mary School, a school in the community of Prince Albert while living at the residential school. After the residential school he was part of INAC’s boarding out program, living in a family’s home while attending Riverside Collegiate. After high school he attended the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus, which became the University of Regina in 1976. He has two Bas (one in English literature and another in linguistics), and an MA in English Literature. He is a recipient of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit (2021) and The Queens’s Platinum Medallion (2022).

He has been teaching the Cree language and Cree Literature at the First Nations University since 1984 (as a sessional) and full time since 1986. Solomon has done numerous translations from English to Cree and in addition has several publications in Cree including nīhithaw ācimowinaWoods Cree Stories (2014) and māci-nēhiyawēwinBeginning Cree (2016), both published through the University of Regina Press. Another book through the UR Press is forthcoming in January 2023, kâ-pê-isi-kiskisiyân, ᑳᐯᐃᓯᑭᐢᑭᓯᔮᐣ, The Way I Remember.

He loves stories and storytelling.


Roger Roulette

Roger Roulette was born and raised in McGregor, Manitoba. He went to school there and later his family moved to Winnipeg when he was a young teenager. All his life, he spoke Ojibwe with his family. Later, he made the Ojibwe language his life work. He began teaching it in evening courses at the Manitoba Association for Native Languages (MANL) in Winnipeg. He helped with skits that were performed at the MANL Native Language Festivals. With his friend and colleague Pat, he met and worked with many elders in the city when he was in his late 20s. He taught himself to read and write standardized Ojibwe and became a gifted translator and transcriber. He was an academic. He was a knowledge keeper. He was a comedian amongst close friends. His friendly face was well-known at language and cultural events, as he was very well-liked by the community at large.

Some of his many accomplishments include being a sessional instructor at the University of Manitoba where he was Adjunct Professor. He taught Introductory and Intermediate Ojibwe. He worked with Maureen Matthews at the Manitoba Museum, transcribing and translating elders’ tapes. He did much recording of elders during this time too. All during his professional life, he learned many dialects of Manitoba and Ontario. He taught himself syllabics. He provided linguistic consultation, translation and program development at the Indigenous Languages of Manitoba (formerly MANL). He researched for the Oral History Project for Treaty 1, recording, transcribing and translating elders’ materials. He was co-author of many articles. He was author of Ojibwe grammar textbooks such as Gidinwewin, Bi-anishinaabemog, 2 Poplar River Plant Guide, Ojibwe Language Guide, and Pauingassi Book.


Alderick Leask

Alderick Leask is a respected Swampy Cree language instructor originally from Sapotaweyak Cree Nation, Manitoba. His experience includes conducting classes in Native Studies, Native Cultures, Native Languages and Canadian History from the Indigenous perspective using Traditional Elders’ Knowledge (TEK) and land-based learning. Mr. Leask places Creation and its bounties as his background in instructing students when learning basic outdoor survival skills. His usage of the functional and descriptive language of Swampy Cree demonstrates its practicality.


Kevin Tacan

Kevin Tacan is a Traditional Knowledge Keeper, Elder, and storyteller from Sioux Valley Dakota Nation where he was raised alongside his seven siblings, and two relatives. Kevin holds a diploma from Yellowquill College in Economic Development, a certificate from Assiniboine Community College in Applied Agriculture as well as a degree in Native Studies from Brandon University with a minor in the language. Kevin has taken on various positions in his community in different areas including governance and business development; he also sat on the Board of Governors at Assiniboine Community College for six years, and served as Vice-Chair for three.

Kevin has been with the Brandon School Division since 1996 as a Cultural Consultant as well as a Professor in the Native Studies Department at Brandon University teaching the Dakota language. He has sat on the Board of Directors of Indigenous Languages of Manitoba as the Chairperson.

Kevin dances men’s traditional powwow, sings and plays flute music, as well as emcee’s many powwows and conferences including the Winterfest conference on languages in Brandon, MB. In his free time, he does team roping, as well as many workshops and presentations on his language, culture and traditions.

Tacan wrote “Wounhdakapte,” a beginner’s book with stories and the alphabet to teach the younger generation. “Wounhdakapte” means “we’ll talk”, hoping to inspire conversation.  Included in the book are stories about why it’s important to continue to learn and a CD inside to help with the pronunciation of certain words. It is his hope to fill gaps in the resources that do exist to make sure that there are always materials available for people to be able to use and teach themselves the language. “We’re losing our elders faster than we’re learning our language,” Tacan said. “It’s going to take entire households to bring the language back, and not just one at a time. It’s something that everybody has to do.” Tacan is hopeful and has seen more and more youth showing an interest in learning the language and attributes this interest to the internet and social media.


Thank you to Carolyn Moar, Albert McLeod, and Jolene Wilson for participating in the evening’s event.

Star blankets presented to those we are honouring were made by Roslyn Berdy (Pinaymootang/ Fairford First Nation)

Sacred Sounds Gathering Event Sponsors

The Winnipeg Foundation

The C-Weed band

The Benevity Fund

Assiniboine Credit Union


The Speech Act Project Funders

Canadian Heritage

Canadian Museums / Young Canada Works

The Winnipeg Foundation Youth in Philanthropy

Tokyo Smoke Exchange

First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg

The Asper Foundation

CanadaHelps Donors


The Speech Act Project Partners

Winnipeg Trails Association

Trans Canada Trails

Brook McIlroy


Wood Anchor


Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Arts gratefully acknowledges the support of:

The Canada Council for the Arts

The Manitoba Arts Council

The Winnipeg Arts Council

The Province of Manitoba

The Province of Manitoba All Charities Campaign


The Charitable Impact Foundation Canada

United Way Winnipeg

Our membership and Private Donors