Apple has apologized to Brendan Eshom of Prince Rupert for deleting his popular Sm’algyax language app. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Apple has apologized to Brendan Eshom of Prince Rupert for deleting his popular Sm’algyax language app. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Apple Inc. apologizes to Rupert student for removing First Nations app

Apple says deletion of popular language app a “miscommunication”

Apple Inc. has apologized to a Prince Rupert student for removing his highly-successful First Nation’s language app.

As first reported by The Northern View and Black Press Media on Jan. 28, Brandon Eshom, a first-year UBC student, was mistakenly accused of violating Apple’s policies and “fraudulent behaviour”.

“These were serious accusations against me. I never did learn what I did wrong,” Eshom said. “They said I broke their agreements and they were going to terminate my developer account.”

Eshom said he was completely bewildered and frustrated trying to learn what the issues were for Apple or how he could fix anything with no information coming back to him. Emails were the only way of communicating with the company, he said, which were doing nothing by running him in circles. When he finally did get a phone number he was connected with a robot that just repeated the verbiage of the previously sent emails.

Finally, Eshom receive an email from Apple that stated:

“Maintaining the integrity of the App Store is a responsibility we take seriously to ensure the safety of our customers, and give every developer a platform to share their brightest ideas with the world. Unfortunately, this developer’s app, which is a great example of how technology can be used to bridge cultural understanding, was mistakenly removed from the App Store.”

As part of the Prince Rupert And District Chamber of Commerce Rising Stars program in 2020, Eshom created a Sm’algyax word app, which he used as his ‘passion project’ during the business mentorship program. Brendan’s app was so successful it reached 104 in Apple’s Top 200 ranked apps in July 2020. In the first week, it had more than 600 downloads in the education category.

Eshom’s mom, a member of the Gitga’at First Nation from Hartley Bay, where he spent much time with his grandmother growing up. He learned from his grandmother that preserving the traditions and languages were imperative to pass on to future generations. Brendan wanted to learn the Sm’algyax language but his high school timetable couldn’t accommodate the scheduling, so as an entrepreneurial problem solver he found a way to teach himself. He jumped forward with the development of a Sm’algyax word of the day website.

“It is absolutely vital to learn the language. My grandmother’s family always encouraged and taught me to overcome any impediments to learning the language,” Brendan said. One of those impediments were laws of the day, he said.

“It feels like it’s my responsibility to take it back and build on what other people have done. I need to promote it. In the past, that wouldn’t have been possible for someone my age. I don’t want to look back in 20 years and wonder ‘Could I have done more?’ It’s important to take that opportunity now.”

His family and his 95-year old great-grandmother who is a fluent Sm’alygax speaker and still lives in Hartley Bay were his inspiration he told The Northern View.

“I’ve been taught to do as much as you can when you are young. It’s important to encourage language as soon as you can.”

“Basically, my efforts are just to sustain and strengthen the Sm’alygax language.”

Eshom was featured in Global BC Consumer Matters episode on Feb. 9.

READ MORE: Heart of our City: Brendan Eshom

READ MORE: Prince Rupert public is invited to support Sm’algyax promotion platform


K-J Millar | Journalist
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