The web version of the app launched with a how-to demonstation attended by approximately 20 people in Prince Rupert.

Indigenous language app launched in Northern B.C.

Learning Sm’algyax with the help of a new website in Prince Rupert

An Indigenous language is being revived with the help of new technology.

On April 13, in the Aboriginal education office in Prince Rupert, approximately 20 people were present for the launch and demonstration of the Sm’algyagm Ts’msyen language app. While it’s still in development, the website is available and will soon be compatible with smartphones and iPads.

Roberta Edzerza, district principal for Aboriginal Education, said the app is made for Sm’algyax learners at all levels, from beginners to elders, and can be used by students and teachers.

In School District 52, the Sm’algyax language program is an approved second language course and can be taken from kindergarten through Grade 12.

READ MORE: PART I: How Prince Rupert school teach Indigenous language to hundreds of students

“It’s not enough time for students to become fluent in the Sm’algyax language,” Edzerza said. “The Sm’algyax language is a very complex, distinct language. Because we’re not using it in the home as much as we used to hundreds of years ago and we have very little fluent speakers to help mentor us, this is one avenue that’s going to help everybody being able to appreciate it and have it right on their palm to use as much as we can on a daily basis.”

Currently, 10 lessons are available, leading learners through recorded and written conversations. Videos with cartoons have talking bubbles to follow along, then quizzes to test what you’ve learned.

READ MORE: PART II: Indigenous language and culture go hand in hand in Prince Rupert classrooms

It’s been several years in the making with a group of linguists, fluent Sm’algyax speakers, as well as IT support and grant funding from Simon Fraser University. Edzerza said the work is not done yet.

“Our Sm’algyax language authority has been working hard to revitalize, archive, record, translate … and make it available so we can share that with the communities along with building speaker proficiency, so we can share our knowledge with our younger generations and keep it alive.”

Check out the web version of the app at

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