City of Saskatoon uses Michif language to name road in Brighton
- EFN staff | April 23, 2021
“Shakamohtaa” is the Michif word for “connect” and symbolizes the importance of coming together and building relationships. The name "Shakamohtaa" (shaa-KAM'-moh-TAHH') was recently assigned to a street in the southeast quadrant of Brighton and the City of Saskatoon’s Naming Committee believes it to be the first Michif street name in Saskatoon.
“The Michif language is an integral language to this land,” said Mayor Charlie Clark in a release. “While it is long overdue, I am glad we will see the Michif language reflected on this street in Brighton. Imagine the impact for kids growing up in this neighbourhood, living on or near Shakamohtaa Street. They will feel a greater connection to these roots and the beauty of the Michif language.”
According to the Gabriel Dumont Institute, the Métis in Saskatchewan speak three Michif languages. The most widely known Michif is a Cree-French mixed language composed of Plains Cree (nêhiyawêwin) with some Plains Ojibway (nakawēmowin) verbs/verb phrases and French (with some English) nouns/noun phrases. A world-renowned language, Michif is spoken in all three prairie provinces and into Montana and North Dakota. Michif-French—which is a French-based language blended with an Algonquian syntax—is spoken by the Métis in Batoche/St. Louis, Saskatchewan and in St. Laurent and St. Eustache, Manitoba. Northern Michif—a Cree-based language with a small amount of French word (noun) borrowings—is spoken in the northwest corner of Saskatchewan, with most speakers living in or near Ile-à-la Crosse, Buffalo Narrows, Beauval, and Green Lake.
Harriet St. Pierre, a Métis Elder who has spent most of her life living in Saskatoon believes this small step is a very important one. “I am happy that the City of Saskatoon is using our Métis language. It is our Michif language that gives us a community, culture, nation, and sense of belonging – all of which makes us Métis,” said Elder St. Pierre. “This makes me very proud to have a street named in our language Michif. It will make a lot of Métis Elders and Nations very happy. It’s a good start to learning more about and understanding our Métis people and culture. I look forward to seeing more like this in the future.”
Since street names are selected during the neighbourhood planning stage, the physical street does not yet exist anywhere other than on planning maps. It’s expected that the road will be in place along with its accompanying street sign in about two years’ time.