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The Univeristy of Regina Press is making headway in preserving and promoting Indigenous languages. Photo by Celine Grimard.

Nestled in the heart of the prairies is one ambitious publisher that’s making a difference with reconciliation.

The University of Regina Press began five years ago this June. Director and publisher Bruce Walsh remembers that day because it was the day a young scholar approached him with a pitch --a pitch that has led to six books being published with a plan for many yet to come. “He said he was working with the last living speaker of her language and he asked if I would be interested in publishing a book on that,” Walsh remembers. “I couldn’t imagine anything more important than publishing a book on that because it’s about capturing a worldview that is contained within a language.” The UR Press has six First Nation Languages Readers under their belt, but they have their sights set much higher. Walsh said their goal is to publish books in all 60 plus Indigenous languages within Canada. Walsh said the series is a collection of new and traditional stories. “Some of the stories can be funny, they can be bawdy and they can be really in some ways shocking,” Walsh said. The six books, Aaniiih/Gros Ventre Stories, These are Our Legends, Woods Cree Stories, Blackfoot Stories of Old, Nenapohs Legends and Funny Little Stories, are available in their language groups, English and in syllabics if they exist. In one instance, Walsh explains these books have taken a language spoken by only 24 people and now have extended that to a hundred high school kids, just by simply giving the school the resource tool. “What I love about this series is you don’t need to speak Gros Ventre or Saulteaux in order to read the book and enjoy it,” said Walsh. “You are getting sort of a worldview that comes with that story.” Walsh credits his dedicated staff for why these books make it to the publishing stage, calling it a "labour of love". It takes 20 to 30 thousand dollars to publish every book Walsh said. Half of that is covered by Creative Saskatchewan but most of the costs are incurred by the Press. “My team is very passionate about what we’re doing. We’ve been extraordinarily successful to have seven national best sellers in Canada from a small regional academic press,” Walsh said. The reason Walsh and his team are so driven is because of a shared goal. “If we’re going to make things better, which is to say we are going to bring justice to this country for Indigenous people, then we need the truth and the truth has been censored just like the languages have been censored and that’s why we are doing what we are doing," Walsh said. He said it's bringing these books to those communities for the kids to learn their languages that have been denied them. The process for one of these series begins with the editor Arok Wolvengrey going out to the First Nation communities and seeing what it is they want. “Arok is the glue, he’s the one who’s really making it happen,” Walsh said. “We’re taking what he brings to us and applying our expertise to the material.” Walsh explains they can only publish them when the community is ready and wants too. “I wanted to make resources available for people who can help, help revitalize languages that are under threat,” Walsh said.