Native Village
Youth and Education news
 MAY 1, 2010   VOLUME 1

Linguist gives voice to ancestral Huron language
By Mark Cardwell,
Condensed by Native Village

Wendake: As a little girl in Connecticut, Megan Lukaniec wasn’t very interested in her aboriginal heritage. Nor was she interested in the tiny reserve near Quebec City, where her father’s Huron-Wendat mother was from.

But today, Megan is the main linguist and trainer of the Yawenda Project. the 25-year-old is giving voice to the rebirth of her ancestor's

“It’s a real honour for me to be involved like this – but it’s a lot of hard work, too,” Lukaniec said.

In 200, Megan went to the Wendake Reserve to study the Wendat language on a fellowship from Dartmouth. She also has a degree from the school.  Dartmouth's Native American program t“got me interested in my roots,”

At Wendake,  Lukaniec met Linda Sioui and other residents who were planning the Yawenda language-revitalization project. Soon, Megan enrolled in the masters program in linguistics and anthropology at Laval University. She was son named linguist of the project.

After enrolling in the master’s program  – from which she will graduate in June – Lukaniec was named linguist of the project.
Her strategy is to build groups of words like numbers, colours, kinships, animals and everyday life.

“It’s a huge job,” said Lukaniec. "I’ve done hundreds of words over the past 2 1/2 years.”

Among Megan's  resources are:
Jesuit Relations – field notes written by priests who lived among the Huron-Wendat.
Dictionaries of other Iroquoian languages that are similar to Wendat.

Megan also studies structure and phonetics, then advises the 10-member language council how to pronounce each word. Then she teaches the approved words to project instructors, who in turn teach the tudents.

The enthusiasm and goodwill of the people involved in Yawenda is encouraging.

“People here are wild, crazy about this,” Lukaniec said. “The teachers in particular are so dedicated. They always want more and more. I have to push myself to stay ahead of them.”

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