Thursday, June 24, 2010, Provincial Archives of Alberta:
And what a celebration!
This book has been a long time in the making and never would have made it without the talent and devotion of many people. A book that brings together several traditions, talents, and texts really wanted a launch celebration just as diverse.
After a brief welcome, our Master of Ceremonies, Vice Provost Jonathan Schaeffer, wasted no time in ushering us outdoors for the smudge ceremony. Sadly, Elder Bob Cardinal could not make it. So with humility and a light heart, Lonny Potts of the Thundering Spirit Cultural Society adroitly led the smudge ceremony. Father Jim Holland from Sacred Heart Parish of the First Nations led a prayer before we headed back inside. The Thundering Spirit Cultural Society then performed a bracing Honour Song.
Dr. Schaeffer thanked Linda Tsang, Director of the Living Communities division of the Royal Alberta Museum, for allowing us to display Father Grouard’s press and Samantha Kelly at the Museum for clearing the path for all arrangements. He also thanked the Provincial Archives, the superb assistance of Jessica King, and the support at every turn of the Oblate Archivist, Diane Lamoureux.
He acknowledged Lewis Cardinal, Federal NDP Candidate for Edmonton Centre, and Arok Wolvengrey, Professor of Linguistics at the First Nations University in Regina. Professor Wolvengrey, co-author of the invaluable dictionary Cree: Words, supplied the foreword to the text. He also contributed expert and generous guidance for the translating team.
Dr. Schaeffer then congratulated The University of Alberta Press, under the direction of Linda Cameron, for championing this innovative study of the emergence of print culture and the bonds between the Cree people and the Oblate missionary project in Northern Alberta.
The translation of this text has been a collaborative effort, involving a Cree-language specialist from the Faculty of Native Studies, Dorothy Thunder, a poet who writes in both Cree and English, Naomi McIlwraith, and a professor of English, Patricia Demers. Dr. Schaeffer invited the contributors to say a few words.
Thanks were lavished on friends, family, and colleagues near and far. Special thanks was extended to designer Jason Dewinetz who laid out this rare trilingual text with facility and style.
The formal proceedings ended with a Closing Song by the Thundering Spirit Cultural Society and a prayer by Father Holland. We adjourned to the gallery to view Father Grouard’s press, buy books, have them signed, eat, drink, and visit.
Special thanks go to UAP author and Professor Emeritus, Douglas Barbour, for inventing the doug—a little almond cookie slathered in maple syrup butter. We had terrific fun salvaging this decadent “dip” from a disappointing batch of bannock. Thundering Spirit Cultural Society and our hosts from the archive even partook! Many dougs were enjoyed, even after their primogenitor headed for home.
Thanks too to Earle Waugh, who will bring display copies of The Beginning of Print Culture in Athabasca Country to Lac La Biche in time for their centennial celebrations July 2–4.