Global Site Navigation (use tab and down arrow)

Annual Report 2018

Wolastoqey language app launched

The Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre at UNB launched a new smartphone app designed to help people learn the Wolastoqey language.

The app is designed to teach users words and phrases that surround the culture and identity of the Walostoqi people. There are sections on seasons, holidays, geographical regions, plants, animals, family, ceremonies and medicine, among others.

“We’re building these resources because we believe there is no reason for young people not to be connected to, and exposed to, languages,” says Elder Opolahsomuwehs (Imelda Perley), UNB’s elder-in-residence. “We didn’t want it to be another dictionary. We wanted it to be as if you have an elder guiding you as you learn the language.”

The idea for the app originated with Elder Perley and her husband David Perley, the director of the Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre.

Users of the app are greeted with the voice of Elder Perley sounding out the words. Phrases are read in English and then repeated in Wolastoqey.

Jennifer LeBlanc, co-ordinator of Wabanaki language revival at the Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre, says that the app is aimed at everyone who wants to learn the language, including students, community members and even those that already know how to speak it.

“We have elders that know the language, they have grown up speaking it all their lives, and know the culture and identity surrounding it, but are now learning how to write it. Everyone that is interested in the language should have the ability to learn it,” says LeBlanc.

The project was carried out in collaboration with Winnipeg-based native language app developer Ogoki Learning Inc., Fredericton-based digital marketing company Essential Studios as well as the Atlantic Canada’s First Nation Help Desk, which provided funding for student participation and learning in the development phase of the app.

“We want to develop sections that include terms that surround everyday life. If someone wants to go to the grocery store, buy clothes or invite someone to watch a movie, we want to make sure we can break that down into simple conversation. This will help people be able to build sentences and have conversations with others,” says LeBlanc.

“We invite our treaty partners to join us in the spirit of reconciliation to listen to our Wolastoqey Latuwewakon App and choose new words or phrases to learn, use and share! Our future generations will carry on the gift of honouring our treaties by knowing all the languages of our shared land,” says Elder Perley.