#SpeakMikmaq teaches people words and phrases in Mi’kmaq. One of her popular videos online encourages positive self talk, called ‘repeat after me’. Savvy involves anyone people in her videos like her grandmother.
Savvy grew up in a Mi’kmaq-speaking with her mother and grandmother. Her grandmother (Migiju) Sarah Simon is a survivor of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School in Shubenacadie and re-learned her language as a young adult.
Savvy believes that youth need to be encouraged to speak because it carries our past, history and humor.
Savvy uses a smartphone to film the instructional. It has no cost and easy to do as she uploads videos on social media.
As a result of her work, she has visited schools, reservations, conferences and pow-wows across North America. Her messages are motivational.
She has been mentored and connected with a wide range of Indigenous language teachers and enthusiasts. As a result, other movements have started- #SpeakMaliseet, #SpeakPenobscot, #SpeakLakota and #SpeakCree campaigns.
The language work picked up instantly, people are hungry to learn. The teachings have even reached people in Australia, China and Italy who are learning Mi’kmaq.
Savannah 'Savvy' Simon is from the Mi'kmaq tribe of Elsipogtog First Nation, NB. She is a motivational speaker, an educator, entrepreneur, activist, mentor and entertainer. Savvy has used social media- YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Vine and Twitter posts for her signature hashtag #SpeakMikmaq. She uses it as a tool for the launch of her Mi'kmaq Language Revolution as she understands the importance of language to culture’s survival. She has a following of at least 16, 000 people.
One of the biggest struggles faced was lateral violence. Savvy talked to a mentor about language bullies. The mentor never heard of that experience across Turtle Island and was appalled. It seems to be heavier for Mi’kmaq and Maliseet tribes in east coast in Canada. This is probably due to the East Coast being hit first and the hardest with colonization. The pains still run very deep and prevalent.
Savvy remembers a couple of items where she almost quit sharing her language videos. She remembers crying on the bathroom floor because of how mean the bullies were. This has taught here about forgiveness, to pray for them and to truly remember why she is doing this. Savvy thought of the children and Elders who lost their language at residential school.
One of the biggest steps was to get out of comfort zone and to share what she knew. It is important to understand why we do this type of work. This keeps us on track when we get discouraged.