Gwich'in elder learns video call technology to continue teaching language at a distance
People log on from Edmonton, Whitehorse, Yellowknife and beyond to participate in the lessons
Gwich'in language classes are continuing between provinces and territories through Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Crystal Fraser began learning Gwich'in in 2018 with her daughter Quinn, who is now five-years-old.
"About three years ago when when she started talking, I had this sudden realization that this is really the best time to teach her our our language," said Fraser.
"I had been interested in our language for a long time, but was not was not a speaker at all."
She reached out to her cousin Agnes Mitchell, who began teaching them the language.
Mitchell is a Gwich'in teacher, elder and mentor who has been teaching her traditional language for a while, and has now adapted to teaching on weekly online sessions through Zoom.
It took a bit of getting used to and some help from Fraser to get started on the technology, but now they have become reunions she looks forward to.
"With COVID-19 happening … I couldn't go home to do my traditional activities. So I really look forward to these sessions because I can see my people," she said.
People log on from Edmonton, Whitehorse, Yellowknife and beyond to participate in the lessons and conversations.
Mitchell says they have an exchange of dialogue and lessons, where they all work together to learn and remember words.
"I love hearing the language," said Mitchell. "And a lot of times we come up with words that we haven't heard for a long time."
Fraser said that she and Quinn are still working to learn more, as it can be difficult to balance the lessons with a busy life.
"I will say that we focus on a lot of everyday words. And so some of the words that the group has come up with are quite fun," said Fraser.
"Now that she's five years old, we have a great basis of words, but we're still learning new things all the time in in our group."
with files from Jenna Dulewich and Loren McGinnis