Cree language, iiyiyuu ayimuun, is very much alive and spoken by almost 20,000 people in Eeyou Istchee. It is taught in our homes and schools, beginning in kindergarten. Many children and adults are able to read and write Cree syllabics. The Cree Nation Government’s events such as our Annual General Assembly, Board/Council meetings, consultations, and other gatherings are conducted in Cree.
Within Eeyou Istchee, we distinguish two major dialects: the “northern dialect,” spoken in the northern and coastal communities (Whapmagoostui, Chisasibi, Wemindji, Eastmain and Waskaganish); and the “southern dialect,” which is spoken inland and in the more southerly communities (Nemaska, Waswanipi, Oujé-Bougoumou, Mistissini and Washaw Sibi).
The Social and Cultural Development Department is responsible for the Cree Nation Government’s language program and policy, as well as overseeing the delivery of an overarching Cree language program for Eeyou Istchee.
The department also works closely with Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute to promote our language and culture.