Three Carrier Sekani First Nations have developed an app for android users in their effort to revitalize the Dakelh language.
Stellat’en First Nation, Nadleh Whut’en and Ts’il Kaz Koh jointly developed this app aimed at increasing the number of Dakelh speakers and to address the loss of language in Dakelh communities.
The app is called ‘Dakelh nekhunik yats’ulhduk,’ which translates to ‘we will speak like our ancestors’ in English.
Nadleh Whut’en’s language and culture coordinator Eleanor Nooski said, “Your language is your sense of belonging and identity. Once the children start learning, there’s so much pride when the Elders see it, and there’s a ripple effect in the whole community.”
Development of the app began in 2014, when Elders and youth stayed in a hotel together to record Dakelh words for things like body parts, animals and phrases. In 2018, the three First Nations began collaborating on building the app for android users.
The regional Dakelh language app interfaces users with recorded pronunciations of the words spoken in Dakelh. Traditional learning through oral history has been easily incorporated into the app, stated a August 3 news release.
A previous version of the app was developed for iPhone, but was too costly for community members who cannot afford Apple products.
“Our language was never recorded and never written,” said Dennis Patrick, language assistant for Stellat’en First Nation.
“It’s been a generation that’s lost virtually everything, and it’s important to know that when we learn this language, we’re learning about the land, and who we are,” Patrick added.
Ts’il Kaz Koh Language Program and Culture Coordinator Sherry Tibbetts said she believes the app is an important part of healing through language and cultural activities.
“We live in a time when we have to be creative and innovative in everything we do,” said Tibbets. She credits her close colleague Karen Sharp for empowering her to take bold action to help her community.
Funding for the regional Dakelh language app has come from the Pathways Forward Agreement, an agreement made between the provincial government and Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, to increase economic opportunities for Carrier Sekani First Nations while addressing decision making, management, and revenue sharing of lands and resources, and healing communities through socio-cultural work, stated the release.
‘Dakelh nekhunik yats’ulhduk’ is available for download on Android.