Wikwemikong group releases Anishinaabe language app

A new app that introduces people to the Anishinnaabe language is now available on Google Play.
Wikwemikong has released a new language app that introduces people to the Anishinnaabe language. (Supplied)
The people of Wikwemikong are turning to technology to keep their language alive. We spoke to app developer Shane Cooper, who was hired to create the app which teaches the basics of the Anishinaabe language.

A new app that introduces people to the Anishinaabe language is now available on Google Play. 

The Anishinaabe language incorporates the nuances of the Ojibwe, Odawa and Pottawatami cultures and it is in danger of being lost in the modern generation, says app creator Shane Cooper

The Wikwemikong Heritage Organization hired Cooper to build an app to teach the basics of the Anishinaabe language.

"We're losing our language as it is and, as our fluent speakers pass on to the spirit world, it's our duty to make sure we don't lose that," Cooper said.

Cooper demonstrated how the new app works on CBC Radio's Morning North with Markus Schwabe:

On mobile? Click here

Cooper said he came up with the program after extensive consultation with people who use various dialects and pronunciations in the region. Through the app, users hear individual words and see how they're used in sentences. 

Only 40 per cent of the people of Wikwemikong, located on the eastern end of Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario, speak the Anishinnaabe language, Cooper said.

It is hoped the app will interest younger people to re-connect with their language.

"You grow up, your mother's speaking the language, your father's speaking the language, your grandfather's speaking the language, and then, when it's time to leave the nest, you are pretty much on your own," he said.

"Then when you leave the home, you are pretty much losing the language because you don't hear it every day as much as you used to."

Wikwemikong resident Bruce McComber, 29, attends university in nearby Sudbury.

He said his entire family speaks the language. But he, like many of his generation, does not.

"I have noticed that some of my friends from Wikwemikong and elsewhere have been downloading the app and talking about it, so it certainly has created a buzz among people of my age range," McComber said.

The app was launched on Google Play.