Tag Archives: aboriginal language

Module 1 – Technology in Quebec Cree Communities

After doing the readings for Module 1 and learning about the importance of place, and based on the experience I have working and living in a Cree Community for a bit over three years, I am interested in the programs and opportunities that introduce, use and promote media and technology, not just in K-11 education, but in various aspects of community life.

I wanted to include N’we Jinan, because they have a big presence in the community I live in. They have visited my school and created music videos with our students. The writing, production and filming processes are truly amazing!  However, others have already mentioned the program, so I will leave it out.

1. Minority Media

Minority Media is a company based in Montreal that creates virtual reality games. They have focused on introducing a new type of video game genre: empathy games. In 2014, they released Spirits of Spring, a game that centers on a young boy, Chiwatin, and his friends in Northern Canada who are trying to come to terms with bullying.

Minority Media also created a virtual reality game for the Cree School Board to help young students learn Cree Syllabics. With the help of a girl named Niipiish and her dog, students learn new words in a really exciting way. I’ve played this game and watched my students use it. It is a very interesting way for them to practice their language.

2. Mikw Chiyâm
Mikw Chiyâm is an arts program with the goal of increasing student retention and engagement. Professional Canadian Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists are in residency at an appointed CSB school for a 7 week program. There are four residency cycles per school year, which allows the students to be exposed to a variety of artistic forms. They collaborate with local artists and students to help them express their voices creatively. While this program is not explicitly about technology, certain of the artists-in-residence have this as their specialty and incorporate it into the program in various ways.

3. Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute

The Cree Cultural Institute is a museum with information and artefacts aimed at preserving and passing on Cree traditions, knowledge and values. Almost everything is accessible through the website. Visitors can virtually explore categories such as hide and fur preparation, moccasins and mittens, and snowshoes and toboggans. There are descriptions, images and even videos. There are also different zones, such as The Community’s Way of Life and The Land Has Memory. The museum even has an app!

4. The Nation: Cree News

The Nation is an independent Aboriginal news publication that covers and reports on stories about and impacting residents of the James Bay area in northern Quebec and Ontario. In addition to news and events, The Nation website also has an extensive list of Cree Legends, available in both English and Cree.


Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government website provides a wide range of information about this region, such as a brief history, the territory and their services. The publish reports on important issues such as drinking water, as well as news. The website also live streams events, such as elections and council meetings.



Further to this common thread of perspective when it comes to technology and education, this article and interview features Mike Parkhill and Brent Tookenay and their collaborative project on using technology to revitalizing Indigenous languages. Parkhill argues that there is a need to modernize Indigenous languages – not just archive them. He provides the example of the work he did with modernizing the Inuktitut language, explaining that the word Ikiaqqivik is used for internet. It means “my body stays here but my soul travels other places to see”. This is so complex, I wonder about others’ perspectives on the necessity to “modernize” language, yet I also find the word choice to be thoughtful and intentional. How has this modernization been received? Especially when someone non-native is backing the technological aspect.

In the interview, Parkhill goes on to explain the reading app and literature that he has been involved in designing in which he includes phonetic text for the Maliseet language, a language that was only used orally. The intention is for people to read to/with their children, but because of tradition, this caused contention. I wonder if there aren’t better ways to honour tradition whilst highlighting language learning.

Module 1 Entry 2

Module 1 Weblog – Paige McClelland

I am really interested in researching the success as well as the barriers to mobile learning for Indigenous youth in Canada. Mobile technologies can offer many advantages that traditional means struggle to provide for students, such as bridging formal and informal learning opportunities. However, mobile education is very new territory, and as an educator, I would like to learn more about how to support this new avenue of educational technology, so that Indigenous learners, already the most disadvantaged students in Canada, are supported through appropriate educational programming.

The more that I researched this topic, the more interested I became in language preservation through mobile technology, and how this can potentially give a voice to Aboriginal youth. It also raises several concerns about knowledge preservation and access (e.g., those who do not have mobile devices or have limited connection).

Cowan, D., McGarry, F.M., Moran, H., McCarthy, D. D., & King, C. (n.d.). Information technology to support Indigenous Peoples [PDF]. Retrieved from https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-index-wellbeing/sites/ca.canadian-index-wellbeing/files/uploads/files/information_technology_to_support_indigenous_peoples.pdf

  • In this article, the authors conducted a study on the effects that Dreamcatcher software had on knowledge sharing and curation within some Indigenous populations in Canada. Dreamcatcher is an interactive mapping service that has been co-designed with Aboriginal communities from Ontario, Canada. Attached to the maps are interactive stories and knowledge about specific communities in Canada. The authors of the study outline several advantages of using this software, but also provide insight into the considerations of using technology that is so closely tied to Indigenous cultural identity and language. There is also a really interesting section on the concerns people have regarding Indigenous knowledge that was meant to be private accidentally becoming public knowledge because of security issues.

The Endangered Languages Project. (2017). Browse resources by category [Web page]. Retrieved from http://www.endangeredlanguages.com/

  • In 2012, Google launched a curated website called The Endangered Languages Project, which catalogues languages from around the world, including some Indigenous languages in Canada. There are many interesting resources (related to the intersection of language and technology) as well as research that supports the importance of language revitalization on a global scale. This seems like a very useful website for observing the intricacies of local and global knowledge. Although the website is a little tough to navigate because of the limited browsing and search options, I think it is useful for those interested in learning about how to support endangered languages through mobile technology. The blog on this website is also particularly helpful and is easier to navigate for focused material than the actual website.

Franks, S., & Gessner, S. (2013). A guide to language policy and planning for B.C. First Nations Communities [PDF]. Retrieved from First Peoples’ Cultural Council website: http://www.fpcc.ca/files/PDF/Language_Policy_Guide/FPCC_Policy_Guide_2013.pdf

  • This 142-page guide outlines reasons why language revitalization is essential to preserving Indigenous knowledge, but also offers important information about why some current efforts to preserve languages and knowledge through technology have had adverse effects on Indigenous populations in Canada. The guide offers educational policy suggestions that could be helpful for educators who are interested in supporting learning opportunities that help Indigenous students transmit their language and culture. Finally, the guide offers important insight into community-based education, and why it’s important that educators and policy makers look at the needs of the community or specific body of learners first before implementing policy or learning activities (p. 72). This seems especially important as we introduce mobile learning into the classroom.

Perrier, C. (2016, May 20). Keyboard app brings Indigenous languages to mobile [Newspaper article]. Retrieved from CBC News website: http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/indigenous-language-app-1.3586511

  • A CBC article reports that some Indigenous language speakers will now be able to talk, speak, and text using their traditional language through the FirstVoices app. For many years, online platforms have catered to the English language and not included other languages and voices, so this app, and others like it, could be a step in the right direction in terms of acknowledging diverse Canadian voices. As I was reading through this article, I was excited by the prospect of Aboriginal youth connecting to their Elders through the power of language. Plus, this app would certainly be interesting to utilize in the classroom. However, I question who designed this app, and for what purposes. What are the assumptions and biases that have gone into the production of this app?

Pulla, S. (2015, October 30). Mobile learning and Indigenous education in Canada: A synthesis of new ways of learning [Report]. Retrieved from Royal Roads University website: http://www.siomonnpulla.com/downloads/pulla-knowledge-synthesis-report.pdf

  • This executive summary is written in a very approachable way and provides a detailed overview of the influence that mobile education has had on Aboriginal youth. In this summary, the author provides many examples and case studies of mobile education, but also warns against using this technology as a Band-Aid solution to fix the injustices that Indigenous learners have faced in traditional Western schools. What I found particularly interesting was the section on how mobile learning can potentially assist in Indigenous language revitalization (p. 19). While the author makes several interesting points, including how social media can effect positive change, I question how Indigenous people feel about the preservation of knowledge, including language, on mobile apps that pose serious privacy and security risks, not to mention who has access to this knowledge, and for what purposes.

The First Peoples’ Language Map of B.C

The First Peoples’ Language Map of B.C

The First Peoples’ Language Map of B.C is an online interactive map which allows users to view a map of British Columbia which highlights the various linguistic regions of its First Nations Communities.  Users can switch the base layer of the map from terrain view to street or satellite view and can layers which show First Nations internet connectivity and areas which contain “sleeping” languages or those which have no fluent speakers. The site also offers a large list of First Nations communities and languages spoken.  The First Peoples’ Language Map of B.C creates an excellent visual of the diversity that exists amongst aboriginal communities as well as the issues related to historical First Nations communities and current political boundaries.




Module 1 Post 2
Brendan Clark

The Endangered Languages



This site looks at endangered languages all over the world. The site is an excellent resource for gaining a perspective on the wide scope of the problem and the many languages that are on the verge of disappearing.

Resource links to scholarly publications and various types of research can be found at this site. There is an easy to use searchable database that can point to information related to education, anthropology, political issues and environmental factors.

One of the most useful parts of the site is the worldwide language map which indicates locations across the globe where languages are at risk or severely endangered of becoming extinct.

Once-vibrant aboriginal languages struggle for survival



This site is a link to an article on Aboriginal languages in danger of becoming extinct across Canada. Among other things the site identifies British Columbia as the province most in danger of losing Native languages and subsequently culture.

Useful statics on the number of Aboriginal languages and the decline over the years can be found throughout the article. It also discusses the problem in the context of education and the efforts being made to incorporate it into highschool and university programs.

Though it is not a scholarly article it brings up several important points related to the loss of language and culture that would be valuable to anyone researching these important topics for their project.