2019, International Year of Indigenous Languages and a Beatles Cover Song

January of this year started the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL). This project started back in 2016 when the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that 2019 would be the International Year of Indigenous Languages. The project’s website has a lot of good information, so please check it out!

I bring this up now (halfway through the year) because earlier this year, a Mi’kmaq girl named Emma Stevens sang a cover of the Beatles’ song “Black Bird” in her Native language (Mi’kmaq) and it went viral. Thousands of people tagged Paul McCartney online and he finally responded!

McCartney was quoted in cbc.ca saying that her version is “really cool”:

“There’s an incredible version done by a Canadian girl. You see it on YouTube. It’s in her native language,” McCartney said in a video from a tour stop in Lexington, Ky. “It’s really cool, check it out.”

In the quote he did erroneously label Mi’kmaq as being a “Native American” tribe when in fact they are First Nations (Canada), but the shout out was impactful just the same. If you’re curious about that distinction, let me know :)

Emma Stevens was also in an international spotlight (noted in the same cbc.ca article linked above) at the UN-Habitat Assembly in Nairobi, where she spoke about the Red Dress Movement in Canada, which honors missing and murdered Indigenous women, and sang a Mi’kmaq Honor Song.

I encourage everyone to check out Emma’s song (and others on YouTube)!

Does anyone else know of any interesting projects dealing with Indigenous languages that are happening this year?

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