Production underway for second season of TV series that teaches kids Cree language and culture
Saskatoon-based television production company, Campfire Stories, has renewed Stories of the North for a second season.
The show is a children's educational program featuring Moshom, played by Morris Cook, and his granddaughters Natanis and Sekwan, who are played by Claire Walker and Mya Hoskins-Fiddler.
The show encompasses their life in northern Saskatchewan where Moshom tells stories, in animated sequences, about his childhood. He teaches the granddaughters a new word in Cree after each story.
Production is underway and the new season is expected to air on Citytv Saskatchewan in early 2024.
CBC News went behind the scenes of the production and spoke with the cast and creators.
"We are not just teaching them words to repeat, we're actually teaching them the concept of the word and how it fits into the Cree lifeway. That's a big step forward," Lee Crowchild, one of the producers, said.
"It's important that we pass on our knowledge. A lot of times, our knowledge and traditions are steeped in our language… It's a vehicle for us to pass on that language in a much more succinct way."
Former Chief of Tsuut'ina First Nation Crowchild said that, in his nation, language immersion in schools and administration is a way to inform how language is intertwined with their beliefs and worldview. He said season two will resonate with that idea.
It will also try to shape confidence in young viewers — encouraging them to ask questions and to not feel afraid of getting pronunciations incorrect.
"I play Moshom. I lead the process. I introduce a word, they repeat after me and use it in the context of the educational outcome we want to achieve," Morris Cook, a fluent Cree speaker, said.
"This is phenomenal because, as we all know, languages are dying at an alarming rate, that's not excluding Cree even though we are the largest Indigenous speaking people in Canada."
He said the television show is one way to ensure some Cree words survive and will still be known among children born generations into the future.