Prairie Post (West Edition)
Blackfoot singer performs national anthem at Blue Jays game
Tsuaki Marule got to represent the Niitsitapi people last week on Friday Sept. 30 singing O Canada in front of thousands of fans at the Toronto Blue Jays game.
Marule sang the anthem in French, English, and Blackfoot, in an experience she will never forget.
“I’m pleased that it happened to me,” said Marule. “Now that I’ve come back home and gone to work - I work at Red Crow College - I have had many people say to me ‘You did our tribe a proud honour’ and ‘We really appreciate the way you sang with your traditional regalia’.”
Wearing her headdress and a buckskin dress over 100 years old that belonged to her grandmother, Marule was appreciative to be able to reflect her culture out east on a national level.
“I started in French then switched into English, and then I made sure I ended on Blackfoot, and I had many people tell me when I started singing in Blackfoot they choked up or started crying, because they couldn’t believe they were hearing their language at a Blue Jays game on TV.”
Colleague Celestine Twigg helped translate the anthem into Blackfoot for Marule, who is a strong advocate for learning and teaching Blackfoot language.
“That is always a struggle in education, to get Blackfoot language in the classroom,” said Marule. “When I was training to be a teacher, I was doing my teaching practicums at the middle school on the Blood Reserve, they had an excellent Blackfoot immersion program, but they didn’t have enough teachers to be able to carry it on to the next level like high school.”
Now Marule is working with her colleague Evelyn Stabbsdown to promote Blackfoot language at Red Crow Community College.
“This semester, I am teaching Blackfoot,” said Marule. “She and I are co teaching the class and I’m taking care of the classroom aspect with regards to marking and assignments, and how it falls into the curriculum. She is teaching them how to pronounce this and how to pronounce that. They are gravitating towards it, and I am really happy about that because
I am learning too, the language is very important.”
Teaching knowledge that helps students take ownership of the language, Marule is happy to have had a platform to bring Blackfoot language to a larger part of Canada.
“I have been asked by many people since I returned from Toronto to please come to our event and sing,” said Marule. “I would encourage more people to learn, learning to speak Blackfoot.”