The launch of two new language resources Ts’msyen and Sm’algyax was celebrated by more than 47 attendees during the March 1 online presentation hosted by the School District 52 Indigenous Education Department.
The launch showcased the FirstVoices Ts’msyen Sm’algyax app and website which will facilitate the teaching and learning of the traditional language.
“We have had our Sm’algyax in the district for over 25 years, but the language and the communities have been, as you know, much longer than that,” said Roberta Edzera, District Director of Indigenous Education for SD 52..
The language resources are the result of the partnership between Ts’msyen Sm’algyax Language Authority, First Peoples Cultural Foundation and SD 52 who have worked cumulatively over the past few years to produce the educational platforms, said Edzera.
“Our linguistic service for SD 52, as well as our linguistic authority Ts’msyen Sm’algyax have been working in partnership for many years to develop, archive, record, edit the Sm’algyax language to archive and (make it available ) for learners in our school district and community, she says.
The work of compiling the database began with a long line of knowledge holders stretching back over 30 years. More recently, the team of over 20 members included linguists, language coordinators, knowledge holders, technicians, data entry specialists, as well as the FirstVoices team.
Edzera said SD 52 has contacted First Voices, which has developed a site for other Indigenous languages that will also be live soon.
The FirstVoices website has described itself as a suite of web tools and services designed to support Indigenous peoples engaged in language archiving, language teaching and culture revitalization.
Daniel Yona of FirstVoices said that since 2018, more than 100,000 data entries of words, phrases, audio and video recordings have been entered to preserve the language.
“It’s one of the largest dictionaries on FirstVoices now with over 10,000 words and phrases,” Yona said. “We are truly honored that the Sm’algyax language is part of the platform. It’s a great representation of the work Ty’msen knowledge holders have done over the years, both reflected in the online site and the app.
KJ Millar | Journalist
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City of Prince Rupert SD52