Southern Michif is a traditional language of the Métis people. It is also known as Michif, Michif Cree, Heritage Michif, aan Cree, and aañ Crii, etc. Its origins are in the Red River Valley area in Manitoba, Canada. The Métis homeland is spread out over Manitoba, North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and small parts of Ontario and British Columbia.
Southern Michif is comprised mostly of elements from Plains Cree and French with some Ojibwe and, more recently, borrowing from English, which is reflective of its historical influences and multilingual roots.
Several different varieties of Michif are spoken by Métis people, and there are variations within these as well. These varieties can be grouped largely into three categories: Northern Michif, Southern Michif, and Michif French. Southern Michif, is spoken primarily in southwestern Manitoba, southeastern Saskatchewan, and northern North Dakota.
We take the view that all ways of speaking Michif are equally valid, and we do not promote one variety over another. We are grateful to have Knowledge Holders such as Verna DeMontigny and Grace (Ledoux) Zoldy contributing to the resources being created and we recognize that other speakers may have other pronunciations to share as well.
Prairies to Woodlands Indigenous Language Revitalization Circle is a non-profit grassroots community organization focused on the revitalization of Southern Michif and other Indigenous languages spoken by the Métis and our kin. Our vision is a world in which our languages, our culture, our ways of living, and our community are strong, vibrant, and celebrated. We believe that the opportunity to revitalize our languages is a gift shared by all of us, and we invite you to join us in this work. Ahkameeyimotaak! (Let’s keep on!)
Verna DeMontigny is a Michif (Métis) living in Brandon, Manitoba, but is originallyfrom a community known as “The Corner”, near Binscarth, Manitoba. She is a long-time advocate and mother tongue speaker of Michif. Verna has taught Michif in the K-12 school system and at Brandon University. She is a Master speaker in the Prairies to Woodlands Indigenous Language Master Apprentice Program Pilot Project and the Chair of the Prairies to Woodlands Indigenous Language Revitalization Circle (P2WILRC). She is central to many of our documentation projects and the creation of language learning materials.
Grace (Ledoux) Zoldy is a long-time Michif language advocate and Master speaker for Master-Apprentice Programs for Indigenous language learning. Grace, along with the late Rita Flamand, were Master-Apprentice Program pioneers on the Prairies, collaborating with Heather Souter to bring it to Camperville 16 years ago. Concerned that Michif was not well represented in many life domains, in 2003 Grace wrote Li Livr Oche Michif Ayamiiyawina— The Book of Michif Prayers, the only book of ritual language written in Michif today. Prior to this, Grace was a Michif consultant to the linguist Dr. Peter Bakker. She has consulted on many other Michif language projects throughout her life. Like many of our oldest Elders, Grace prides herself in being multilingual. In addition to Michif, Grace speaks English, the Saulteaux dialect of Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe), and Plains Cree. Her parents also spoke Michif French. Grace was born in Camperville, MB, and continues to live there to this day.
Heather Souter is a Michif (Métis) living in Camperville, Manitoba. She is a learner-teacher of Michif with a professional background in interpretation and language teaching. She holds a Master of Education in Indigenous Language Revitalization from the University of Victoria, and has extensive training in linguistics and anthropology at the graduate level. A long-time language activist and language revitalization practitioner, Heather presently runs the Prairies to Woodlands Indigenous Language Revitalization Circle (P2WILRC). Heather is also a sessional lecturer in Michif at the University of Manitoba, and consults widely on language revitalization matters,including the use of language technologies for Indigenous languages.
Olivia Sammons has been involved with Michif language work since 2009. She recently received her PhD in Linguistics from the University of Alberta, where her dissertation focused on gender and animacy in Michif. She has an interest in language revitalization, education, and documentation, and is an Adjunct Research Professor at Carleton University and a member of the Prairies to Woodlands Indigenous Language Revitalization Circle (P2WILRC). Olivia is grateful to the many Michif speakers that have shared their language with her.