It was necessary for the French to learn the North American Aboriginal languages, in order to trade, explore the territory, forge alliances, resolve conflicts and, of course, spread the Gospel. Jesuit missionaries played a leading role in the codification and diffusion of the Aboriginal languages. By means of grammar, vocabulary and a writing system, they committed a number of languages to paper, including those of various nations from the large Algonquian linguistic family: the Mi'kmaq (the Gaspé peninsula and Acadia), the Illinois (the region southeast of the Great Lakes) and the Montagnais (the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, from the Saguenay to Labrador). In this way, Aboriginal expression in North America made the transition from oral to written form.

Languages of the Aboriginal Peoples
Montagnais dictionary by the Jesuit missionary Antoine Silvy, 1678
CA ANC MG18-C10