Tansi! For those unfamiliar with Aboriginal languages, ‘tansi’ is a friendly greeting in the Cree language somewhat akin to ‘hello’ in English. It is a word used often in one of APTN’s most popular children’s programs, Nehiyawetan.

Set to premiere its third season on APTN February 15, Nehiyawetan is an energy-driven, interactive series that invites children to learn the Cree language through songs, stories and adventures in the city with Kai and Kayla and their Auntie Josephine.

The show features creative music videos with outstanding Aboriginal musicians, engaging animated stories by talented Aboriginal animators, and traditional dancing and break-dancing.

It includes colourful green screen sequences and thoughtful literacy segments, all blended to interact with children in Cree and share Cree stories with cultural messages.

Nehiyawetan is just one of many Aboriginal language programs airing on APTN and APTN HD.

Preserving Aboriginal languages has always been one of the network’s mandates. As such, APTN broadcasts programming in at least 15 different Aboriginal languages, in addition to French and English.

APTN’s commitment to preserving Aboriginal languages is not, however, restricted to the broadcast realm.

Viewers may recall that in 2010 APTN received the distinction of being the very first Aboriginal broadcaster to air the Olympic Games in Aboriginal languages.

This was no small feat, considering that Aboriginal languages do not normally contain words conducive to calling play-by-play action in the sporting arena.

To facilitate our broadcasts, appropriate wording had to be created within our communities in the Cree, Ojibway, Mi’kmaq, Mechif, Mohawk, Inuktitut, Oji-Cree and Dene languages.

These language ‘additions’ were recorded and later compiled by APTN into a sports terminology booklet as an educational guide for further language development.

With just one-quarter of Aboriginal peoples able to speak their mother tongue (as Census Canada 2006 records), language preservation is vital to ensuring Aboriginal languages do not face extinction.

According to the United Nations, a language dies on average every two weeks somewhere around the world, and many Aboriginal languages in Canada are among those considered in peril. It is said that language is crucial to preserving Indigenous knowledge.

At APTN, we are committed to ensuring that we tell our stories in the ways of our ancestors as much as possible. Perhaps this ideal is best reflected in the published words of a Little Pine Elder:

“ta-mámawi-mámitoniyitamak pohko óma kakiyaw néhiya-iyiniwak ki-ciwasiminiwak ohci ta-miyo payicik ekwa mina ta-kiskinahamawakicik o-pákiskwéwináwáw.”

(“We have to put our minds together as Indian people for the good of our youngsters and teach our children their mother tongue.” Quote taken from http://www.sicc.sk.ca/heritage/sils/ourlanguages/plains/eldersquotes/index.html)

Next month: It’s March madness! Watch for new show premieres and Mega Movie Mania.

Make sure to log on to www.aptn.ca to see our full schedule and more information on current programming and initiatives, contests and memberships.