HCIP Profile: Judy Iseke

Dr. Judy Iseke’s new film and website comprise a “cultural ecosystem” designed to build “resources to inform educators interested in reconciliation and language revitalization”

Dr. Judy Iseke, director/producer of Wesaketewenowuk: Roots Growing Up

Dr. Judy Iseke, director/producer of Wesaketewenowuk: Roots Growing UpAs a filmmaker, author, educator, and researcher, Dr. Judy Iseke understands the importance of revitalizing the highly threatened Michif language, which is key to Métis culture and knowledge for future generations.

As a filmmaker, author, educator, and researcher, Dr. Judy Iseke understands the importance of revitalizing the highly threatened Michif language, which is key to Métis culture and knowledge for future generations.

Her latest film Wesaketewenowuk: Roots Growing Up, supported through an EHC Project Accelerator grant, follows Elder Tom McCallum and musician Andrea Menard on a walk through the natural and built landscapes of Edmonton, creating a Michif song as they go.

The way Michif is spoken varies based on a speaker’s experiences in Métis family, community, and culture, including a variety of influences from French and Cree languages. Just as the Métis culture and creation of Michif language represent exchange, the exchange between McCallum, Menard, and Iseke results in a new cultural creation. Andrea is not fluent in Michif, and her song is created from McCallum’s stories and translations as well as his idea (shared during a trip from downtown into the river valley via funicular) to pair the song with a jig.

Musician Andrea Menard and Elder Tom McCallum share a song

Musician Andrea Menard and Elder Tom McCallum share a song

An author, educator, and researcher in addition to producer/director, Judy is excited about the opportunities for collaboration offered by creative filmmaking

Jaro Malanowski (director of photography, editor)

Jaro Malanowski (director of photography, editor) of Avatar Media

The film is available via Judy’s Our Elder Stories website, which houses stories, films, songs, and language resources for Cree as well as the Michif language; the site and film include contributions by Avatar Media. Together, the film and site form what Judy refers to as a “cultural ecosystem,” designed to build “resources to inform educators interested in reconciliation and language revitalization.”

Her next project? Michif Wesakechak Tune, an animation of the Cree trickster character Wesakechak in an urban Edmonton setting, with Elder McCallum telling “new stories based on the oral tradition . . . teaching his granddaughter about Wesakechak and the Michif language.”

Judy is excited about the opportunities for collaboration offered by creative filmmaking as she explores ways to unlock and share the wisdom and power of language, place, and oral traditions in modern times.

Watch the film below:

Wesaketewenowuk: Roots Growing Up from Judy Iseke on Vimeo.

Wesaketewenowuk SONG LYRICS (Michif/English)

Oma Ota ninipawinHere I stand before you
Ekihci temoyan  –  In all my pride (highest form of thinking)
Nestanan oma ipimatisiyahk – Completing the circle of creation
Wesaketewenowuk – We are the roots growing up

Way hey ya hey ya
Way ha hey ha yo hey
Way ha hey hi yo
Way ha hey hi yo
Weesah kotee wee no wuk

Michif pikiskwewin oma kihcihtakwan – The Michif language is sacred
Takiskimsoyahk – To know ourselves
Atayohketak – Let’s tell our stories
Kantohtenow acimowin We will listen to the stories

Way hey ya hey ya
Way ha hey ha yo hey
Way ha hey hi yo
Way ha hey hi yo

Wesaketewenowuk We are the roots growing up
Wesaketewenowuk – We are the roots growing up
Wesaketewenowuk – We are the roots growing up
Wesaketewenowuk – We are the roots growing up

Coverage for Wesaketewenowuk: Roots Growing Up

St. Albert Today