Indigenous language: Finding new ways to connect with culture

This week on Unreserved, from coding to the silver screen, how Indigenous people are learning languages and creating new ways to reconnect with their culture.
Fred White, Sphenia Jones, Candace Galla and Kari Noe are speakers of their Indigenous languages — and each are finding ways to preserve them and help them thrive. (Claudiane Samson, George Lawson, Candace Galla, Abundanzia Delavega)

This week on Unreserved, Indigenous people are learning languages and creating new ways to reconnect with their culture.

At residential school, Sphenia Jones and all the other kids weren't called by their names, they were referred to by number. She was called 702. Growing up, she wasn't exposed to much of her Haida culture or language. Her grandfathers were told it was against the law to pass it down, and they would be arrested if they taught it to the next generation. Punishments for speaking an Indigenous language at residential school were violent and severe. But when she was cast in Edge of the Knife, a film shot entirely in the Haida language, Jones saw the opportunity to take back what was taken from her so many years ago. 

This week, Unreserved launched a new podcast series called First Words, which will introduce you to someone who speaks an Indigenous language. They will tell you how they learned it, and teach you a few words. The first two episodes will be featured on this week's show, with new episodes released every Tuesday. Subscribe to the Unreserved podcast on your favourite podcast app to hear the episodes. 

When Indigenous languages are discussed in the media, they are often referred to as dead or dying, and in need of revitalization. But Candace Galla, a Native Hawaiian and professor in the department of language and literacy education at the University of British Columbia says this narrative does a disservice to Indigenous cultures.

The technology we use in our daily lives runs smoothly because of programming language like C++, C# or Java. But did you ever think these types of languages might exclude people who don't speak English? Programmer Kari Noe is working with a team to rewrite C# in Ō​lelo Hawaiian, so it is more inclusive to Hawaiian programmers.

Some believe the Tlingit language has been slowly inching towards extinction, so to ward that off a conference was held in Juneau, Alaska. CBC's Claudiane Samson visited the conference and brings us that story.

This week's playlist: 

Logan Staats. (Courtesy of CTV)

Logan Staats - She Just Wants a Folk Song 

Jeremy Dutcher - Ultestakan 

The Jerry Cans - Ukiuq