Canadian app developer seeking 600 stories for Indigenous 'Wikiupedia'

Adrian Duke, who is originally from Saskatchewan, is developing a digital database of Indigenous culture with a phone app called Wikiupedia.

Adrian Duke hopes new phone app will help preserve Indigenous culture

Stories will be told through markers on a map that functions similar to Google Maps. (Garnet Tabacco/submitted by Adrian Duke)

A man who grew up in Saskatchewan is developing a digital database of Indigenous history through a phone app called Wikiupedia. 

Adrian Duke, who is originally from the Muscowpetung First Nation in southeast Saskatchewan, launched a pilot version of his new app this week.

Named for a traditional form of housing called a "wikiup", it allows the public to submit stories about certain places using functions similar to Google Maps and Wikipedia.

Duke said advancing technology has created new ways to preserve Indigenous history.

Connecting youth with culture

Adrian Duke, who is originally from the Muscowpetung First Nation in southeast Saskatchewan, launched a pilot version of his new app this week. (Submitted by Adrian Duke)
"Aboriginal culture is a largely oral culture and so, as elders are getting older and passing on, we're starting to lose a lot of the languages and a lot of these stories," he said.

"It's an opportunity now to engage youth and … get the youth to connect with their elders, to learn these stories and pass them on and preserve them."

The app allows users to find information, audio clips, videos and pictures about a certain location by selecting it from a map, similar to a Google map.

They can also use an augmented-reality tool, with functions similar to Pokemon Go, to explore the world through the app.

Seeking 600 stories

Wikiupedia is still in the testing or "beta" phase, during which Duke hopes to collect 600 stories.

The current version of the app includes historical information about the site of the Skwachàys Aboriginal Hotel & Gallery in Vancouver, where Duke is now based.

Wikiupedia is still in the testing or 'beta' phase, during which Adrian Duke hopes to collect 600 stories. (Garnet Tabacco, submitted by Adrian Duke)

"Skwachàys, which comes from the Squamish Nation and the traditional territory pre-contact here, used to be a marsh and it used to be a much different environment, and that was the traditional name for this area back then," he said.

"So all of that story is told with this one marker."

The project is currently taking registrations for "story catchers" and "cultural guides", who will submit stories and fact-check information from the public.

Help wanted

Their work will help collect enough stories for the app to be utilized by the public when it launches this summer.

They will also help fine-tune the authentication process so that information posted is appropriate and relevant.

Duke said he had already been swamped with interest since making the project public this week.

"They want to share their stories and they want to get involved so it's been really overwhelmingly positive," he said.

Duke said the app would be launched to the public in summer.