Translating into Aboriginal languages?

Don’t ignore these 5 important details!

Although English and French are Canada’s only official languages, there are a large number of Aboriginal languages still in use today by the Indigenous people of our country.

Since many of these languages are spoken by a small population, there are some important considerations one should take when requesting translation to an Aboriginal language.


  1. Be specific on the language requested. For example, if you are looking to translate into Cree language, make sure to specify the dialect. There are many different dialects of the Cree language, each having unique characteristics when speaking and writing in the individual dialects: Plains Cree, Swampy Cree, Woods Cree, Moose Cree, East Cree.
  2. Have a good budget. The cost of living is very high in Aboriginal communities. Just consider that 1 lb of apples is CAD $7.00. Due to these increased personal costs most translators will charge a higher rate than translators of other languages.
  3. Allow more time for delivery. There are only around 1 million aboriginal people in Canada, spread over 600 recognized First Nations governments with different cultures and languages. The number of translators is very limited so they might not be available to begin working on your request immediately.
  4. There are very few full time translators. Most of the time your documents will be translated by elders, chiefs, shamans, teachers and social workers. These people all contribute in the translation process to help preserve their unique languages. Since there are no professional associations which recognize Aboriginal languages, certified translators are not available.  If needed, a sworn translation may be able to be provided upon request.
  5. Aboriginal translators only work with simple file formats. Try to only send basic files such as MS Word documents. Many Aboriginal translators will not have experience with other file types. If you are looking to translate specialized file formats (InDesign, HTML, etc), don’t forget to include a multilingual desktop publishing in your budget and workflow.

Give us a call at 613.686.1278 for more details or a free translation estimate. We offer translation services into these aboriginal languages: Algonquin, Cree, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Mikmaq, Ojibwe.


Felicia Bratu

Felicia Bratu is the operations manager of wintranslation, in charge of quality delivery and client satisfaction. As a veteran who has worked in many roles at the company since 2003, Felicia oversees almost every aspect of the company operations from recruitment to project management to localization engineering. She recently received certification as a Localization Project Manager as well as Post-Editing Certification for Machine Translation. Felicia holds a BSc. in Industrial Robotics from the University of Craiova, Romania.