Tradition meets modern day living in the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw education authority’s newest initiative to promote and retain the First Nation language.
Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey and Atlantic Canada's First Nation Help Desk, in partnership with a Mi’kmaw language advisory committee, have created twelve applications to make learning the Mi’kmaw language easier and more accessible for both fluent and non-speakers alike.
Available on both Android and Apple devices, the apps were developed in-house by Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey and Atlantic Canada's First Nation Help Desk staff, with direction given by a language advisory committee in choosing appropriate content and ensuring accuracy in the translations.
Blaire Gould, Mi’kmaw Language Coordinator at Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, believes bridging the gap between the traditions of the past and technological advancements of today will start to break down walls prohibiting the growth of the language, particularly among youth.
She says that while students are taught and encouraged to speak the language at school, they often stop speaking it after school hours, and one reason for that is limited access.
“We need to cultivate a culture of learning the language and it starts with making it easy to see and hear,” said Gould. “And, what’s more accessible to our youth right now than technology?”
Gould adds that the apps are not only designed for youth, but can be used by anyone of any age to improve or retain their language skills.
Kevin Burton, Director of Atlantic Canada First Nation Help Desk, says having language apps readily available also helps promote the language in a supportive and non-threatening manner.
“I’ve heard of fluent speakers being quizzed by their children,” shares Burton. “Sometimes the youth are even finding blind spots in their parents’ speech - to their great entertainment!”
He says it will be valuable in remote communities with limited access to tangible resources, and in communities with few to no fluent speakers who can pass on the language.
Gould says they’ll continue to update the apps with new content and welcome suggestions from the public.
“Teachers have given us several suggestions for new apps and we’re already working on those.”