Cree-speaking puppet teaches COVID-19 health tips to Indigenous communities

By | April 15, 2020

WINNIPEG — A group of Manitobans are making sure Indigenous people get accurate health information amid the COVID-19 pandemic in their own language – and they are doing it with the help of a puppet named Kahkakiw.

Kahkakiw -which means ‘raven’ in Cree- is a Cree-speaking raven puppet created by a Manitoba man named Samson. Together, the pair is teaching kids in Indigenous communities the important health information amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kahkakiw was created six years ago to help teach kids the Cree language. Now Kahkakiw and Samson are bringing important information into these communities through free Cree videos.

“A lot of people in the north and in many communities don’t speak English. That’s not their first language and trying to reach them in their own language is important,” said Ramona Neckoway, assistant professor at the University College of the North.

Neckoway is a part of group of Manitoba researchers who are working to develop countermeasures to COVID-19 for Indigenous communities.

The project is called Kitatipithitamak Mithwayawin. Kahkakiw is one aspect of this project that brings a bit of humour.

“For Indigenous peoples, humour is really important, so we’re using those pieces to help carry the message forward,” said Neckoway. “( Kahkakiw) is a funny guy. He’s pretty comical.”

Neckoway said currently the videos are only in Cree, but they hope to expand the program to other Indigenous languages in the near future.

The Kahkakiw videos are available to watch online.

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