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First Nations language apps released by Saskatchewan tribal council

A Saskatchewan First Nations agency worried about youth losing their traditions has released a series of iPhone apps for Cree and other aboriginal languages.

Tribal council hopes to help youth hold on to culture, language

A Saskatchewan First Nations agency worried about youth losing their traditions has released a series of iPhone apps for Cree and other aboriginal languages.

The File Hills-Qu'Appelle tribal council, which represents 11 First Nations in southern Saskatchewan, unveiled the free apps in Fort Qu'Appelle on Monday.

"It's with great pride that we offer this and share this with the world," said Edmund Bellegarde, chair of the File Hills-Qu'Appelle tribal council.

"It's an important first step in engaging our young people, a step in reclaiming our heritage."

The apps, which are available in the Apple app store, offers learning, practice, games and quizzes in a variety of  categories including greetings, phrases and expressions.

The loss of aboriginal languages has been relentless over several centuries, and that loss has accelerated during the era of residential schools.

Many former students of the schools have spoken about how they were discouraged from learning or speaking in their home languages.

"Language is the underpinning of our cultures, our identity," Bellegarde said. "The legacy of Indian residential schools has tarnished that."

The tribal council's Language Application Project has been in works since 2011.

File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council started working with Thorton Media, a high-tech language tool company from Las Vegas, to create five language apps (Cree, Dakota, Lakota, Saulteaux and Nakota).

A free Cree language app for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches is now available at the Apple app store. (Thornton Media)

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