We wish to speak a few words to you the
chiefs and to your young men. We are glad to see that the Great Spirit has
taken care of you, and that now many of your fathers are gone there are so
many of your tiny children yet alive. We are not come to trade with you.
We do not want to get your furs-nor your lands, nor anything you have
got. We come to bring you something that is better than all these. You
know that there is a Great Spirit above who governs and takes care of all
- Assembly of Aboriginal People in Norway House, n.d.
James Evans was born on Jan 18, 1801 in Kingston-upon- Hull, England, the son of a merchant captain. He went to school
in Lincolnshire, and apprenticed to become a grocer. His
parents immigrated in 1820 to Lower Canada, where James soon joined
them to work as a teacher. At this time he met Mary Blithe Smith and
the couple married. Within a few years Evans
accepted a position at a Methodist school for Aboriginal children at
Rice Lake and there his gift for languages manifested itself
through his translation of scriptures and hymns into Ojibwa.
View an excerpt from Cloven Hoof, a play by Geoff
In this segment missionary James Evan's reflects on the
between fur trader and missionary.
in 1833 marked the beginning of James Evan's missionary work. In 1840 he was appointed
to Norway House where he would enjoy both the high and the low points in
his career. His greatest achievement
among the Ojibwa and Cree communities was his development of a Cree
syllabic form of writing, while his most disappointing experiences were
the accidental shooting of interpreter and colleagueThomas Hassall, and accusations of sexual misconduct from the Aboriginal community. (Although Evans was declared innocent of sexual misconduct he was
reprimanded and sent back to England. It is likely that the stress of
these last few years played a role in his increasing health problems. He
died November 23, 1846 from a sudden heart attack following a
missionary rally in Lincolnshire.)
James. Cree Language. Reel 2, Archives
of the University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.