Wikwemikong First Nation and tech firm launch new Anishinaabemowin app

Challenge4Change is an initiative between Wikwemikong First Nation and Synergiq Solutions that has developed and launched a free app that teaches users common Anishinaabemowin words and phrases.

Challenge4Change app teaches users Anishinaabemowin words and phrases

New application aims to teach users common words and phrases in Anishinaabemowin in order to revitalize and preserve language. (Rhiannon Johnson/CBC)

A new program seeks to develop an online community and resources to help in revitalizing Indigenous languages.

Challenge4Change is an initiative between Wikwemikong First Nation and Synergiq Solutions that has developed and launched a free app that teaches users common Anishinaabemowin words and phrases.

"The language of the territory is Anishinaabemowin and I think that's an important piece that requires recognition in this day of reconciliation," said Duke Peltier, Chief of Wikwemikong.

"The language of this land should be at the very least recognized and perhaps even used in some cases."

The release of the app is the first step in developing an online community that will act as a resource for language retention that can be used by teachers, families and individuals.

"Society nowadays is plugged in electronically," said Peltier.

"We think that might be an opportunity to have this kind of resource available for a wider reach."

Creating online communities

While the app is currently only available in Anishinaabemowin, Michael Gilbert, CEO of Synergiq Solutions, said it could be used as a template to build on for other Indigenous languages across the country like Inuktitut, Cree and Dene.

Synergiq Solutions is a communications technology firm that helps build online communities such as Tutela, an online platform that helps connect English and French as a second language teachers.

Michael Gilbert, CEO of Synergiq Solutions, (left) and Duke Peltier, Chief of Wikwemikong First Nation (right). (Synergiq Solutions)

As teachers are able to communicate and share resources, the goal with Challenge4Change is to create a similar online community to assist in retaining and revitalizing Indigenous languages.

The app is set up in a competitive game-like style where the user works their way through different categories like greetings, family and time, gathering points along the way.

The application is currently free to download and use on Google Play and the App Store.

"Not everybody has a grandmother or a grandfather now that speaks the language, they may have a neighbour but they're not necessarily accessible," said Peltier.

"We think it's it's an opportune time to have this developed and completed and be available for widespread use for the languages."