Morden fossil museum launches Cree-language audio guide

The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre has added a new language option to its audio guide for visitors wanting to learn more about the world’s largest collection of marine reptile fossils: Cree.

Guide is believed to be the first of its kind, says museum director

People can now learn more about artifacts at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre, like Bruce the mosasaur, in Cree, English and French in its audio guide. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre has added a new language option to its audio guide for visitors wanting to learn more about the world's largest collection of marine reptile fossils: Cree.

The audio guide, which has existed for about three years, already had English and French options. When staff at the museum decided it was time for an addition, they wanted to go in a new direction.

"We understand and know that Indigenous languages are incredibly important to our country," said executive director Peter Cantelon. "Cree was something that came up as an opportunity for us to exercise our responsibility as a museum focused on heritage and education to do something as part of a First Nations [language] effort."

The Morden, Man. museum is best known for Bruce, the world's largest publicly displayed mosasaur.

Cantelon said they chose Cree because statistically it's the most-spoken Indigenous language in Canada and Manitoba.

"It made sense," he said. "We saw it as an opportunity to contribute a little bit to the effort of preserving and educating in the area of Indigenous languages."

Cantelon said developing the new language option and making it available on the app took about six months.

The museum worked with Indigenous Languages of Manitoba to ensure an accurate translation of the existing guide. The Winnipeg-based Bit Space Development created the app and Golden West Radio provided the studio space for recording audio. The museum also received funding through the province for the initiative.

"It all came together as this all-Manitoba effort to put something spectacular out there that wasn't there before," said Cantelon.

Cantelon said he hopes the new audio guide will spark conversations with museums across the country about making their content as accessible as possible.

"It's great to be in the museum, to see it — but there's so much content, so much creativity, and it's so vividly described, that anybody anywhere can download [through] the CFDC audio guide," said Cantelon. "I think that's invaluable and I think that too often institutions fail to go beyond their walls. We have to if we want to truly fulfil our mandate as an educator."

Cantelon said the museum has plans to keep adding language options to its audio guide, including German, Russian and Tagalog, to reflect other large communities it serves.

The CFDC audio tour app is available to download for free on iPhones or Android-based mobile devices.


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