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Office of the Cree Language Commissioner gets five-year agreement

BY Ben Powless Apr 21, 2023

The Office of the Cree Language Commissioner has received a five-year funding pledge, ensuring it will have money to expand its workforce and expand its range of programs and activities in the coming years. 

The Grand Council of the Crees announced the agreement was signed March 30 between the Cree Nation Government, Cree Health Board, Cree School Board, and the Cree Board of Compensation. The funding amounts to $750,000 a year for the next five years, half of which is coming from the CNG.

“The Cree Nation Government is proud to support this initiative and looks forward to the important work the Office of the Cree Language Commissioner will be coordinating to ensure the protection of our language,” the CNG said in a statement. 

“We appreciate the support we’re getting from these organizations. It’s a big step forward for us,” Cree Language Commissioner Jamie Moses said. “We’re on the verge of posting a few positions to expand the team, and this will allow us to hire permanent staff for the Office of the Language Commissioner.”

Moses said the funding will allow the office to expand its current workforce of two by opening three or four positions this spring with the possibility for others by the summer. He said his office has been relying on the “support crew” from the Social Development Department of the CNG.

Two of the new positions will be in communications and language innovation. Moses, the first-ever Cree Language Commissioner, said the funding will allow his office to “support the communities at a greater scale” and assist them in acquiring more funding as well, he indicated.

“We’re also working in collaboration with the various entities that serve in the area of language – mainly the Cree School Board and to some extent the Cree Health Board, because it has a traditional healing department. So, we’ll be able to partner up with these people at a greater scale because we’ll have additional staff and people with expertise,” Moses added. 

Moses said the commitment demonstrates that language is a priority for the Cree Nation and its entities. He said that there was no debate when his office put forward the funding request, and that they received positive feedback all the way. 

With five years of funding secured, Moses hoped that the monies would eventually become continuous so that the office doesn’t have to scramble and not know if or when further funding is coming. He said the office can still seek funding from other sources.

“With recommendations from communities, to calls to action, there’s so much more to do,” Moses said. “Hopefully with the expansion of our team, we’ll be able to work on these projects and move forward with our office.”

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Ben Powless is a Kanien'kehá:ka and Anishnabek writer and photographer, currently living in Ottawa. He has a degree in Human Rights, Indigenous and Environmental Studies from Carleton University.