Canadian MP Gives Speech in Mohawk in Parliament for the First Time

To mark the first day of Aboriginal History Month in Canada, MP Marc Miller, who represents a district of Montreal, gave a short statement in the House of Commons in the Mohawk language, Kanyen’kéha. According to the Montreal Gazette, this was "the first time an MP delivered a speech in Kanyen’kéha and it is one of the few times in Canadian history that the language has been spoken in Parliament."

Miller told the CBC that he has been studying Mohawk for about a year. As a Quebec representative who is bilingual in English and French, he had been encouraging his unilingual Anglophone colleagues to learn French. He realized that he was asking them to put themselves into what can be an uncomfortable and intimidating situation, and decided to "walk the walk and talk the talk" by putting himself in the same kind of situation by taking up Mohawk, "the language of the traditional territory on which Montreal sits."

Miller's teacher, Zoe Hopkins, complimented his performance and his pronunciation and said she was "proud of him as a student ... but just really proud in general to hear our language spoken in the House of Commons."

Here is the translation of Miller's statement:

I pay my respects to you who have gathered here. I stand here to honor the Mohawk language and I pay my respects to their people. Let us pay respects to the Creator for everything he has given to us that we may live peacefully.

I am proud to stand here and speak to you in the Mohawk language. Hopefully it will help us to become better friends. I also hope that we will hear the Mohawk language a lot more often here and that more Canadians will be proud to use it to speak to one another.

I pay my respects to you, the master of this house.

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Wa Wa Wee Wa: The Origin of Borat's Favorite Catchphrase

Wa wa wee wa! Sacha Baron Cohen is back in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2020).
Wa wa wee wa! Sacha Baron Cohen is back in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2020).
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

When Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was released in 2006, a new audience was exposed to Borat Sagdiyev, a “journalist” portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen who had made frequent appearances on the comedian’s Da Ali G Show.

Soon, in our country there was problem: People mimicked Borat’s catchphrases, "very nice" and “wa wa wee wa,” incessantly. The latter phrase was used to denote surprise or happiness on Borat’s part. While some may have assumed it was made up, it turns out that it actually means something.

Wa wa wee wa is Hebrew, which Cohen speaks throughout the film and which helped make Borat a hit in Israel. (Cohen is himself Jewish.) It was taken from an Israeli comedy show and is the equivalent of the word wow. Reportedly, the expression was popular among Israelis, and they appreciated Cohen’s use of it.

The original Borat also sees Cohen singing a popular Hebrew folk song, “Koom Bachur Atzel,” or “get up lazy boy,” among other Hebrew mentions. It remains to be seen how much of it he’ll be speaking in the sequel, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. It premieres on Amazon Prime Friday, October 23.

[h/t The Los Angeles Times]