UVic anthropologist Brian Thom working with one of the Grade 12 students from Ladysmith Secondary School while making recordings of Hul’q’umi’num’ language speaker yutustanaat Mandy Jones (Snuneymuxw First Nation) for this Google Earth Voyager project. (William Taylor/Ladysmith Secondary School)

Google Earth features B.C. Indigenous language in new Voyager story

New story plays sound clips of Indigenous speakers, including voice of Snuneymuxw elder

Google Earth will release a new Voyager story on Aug. 9 that plays sound clips of Indigenous speakers, including the voice of a Snuneymuxw elder.

Voyager is an application that combines visualization with geospatial storytelling. The Celebrating Indigenous Languages story, unveiled on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, is available in 10 languages internationally and encompasses 55 Indigenous languages in 27 countries, from Australia, India, Ecuador and Chile to Cameroon, Pakistan, Turkey and Finland.

The story highlights an initiative led by University of Victoria (UVic) anthropologist Brian Thom and Indigenous languages teacher yutustanaat Mandy Jones, of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, including words, phrases, a proverb and songs in the Hul’q’umi’num’ language.

READ MORE: The world’s Indigenous speakers gather in B.C.’s capital to revitalize languages

The Hul’q’umi’num’ language is spoken by Island First Nations between Nanoose Bay and Mill Bay, including Snaw-naw-as First Nation, Snuneymuxw First Nation, Cowichan Tribes, Stz’uminus First Nation, Penelakut Tribe, Lyackson First Nation, Halalt First Nation and Malahat First Nation.

“It is critical to value and treasure the wisdom that comes from Hul’q’umi’num’ teachings like this,” Thom said in a UVic release.

“It is an honour and privilege to facilitate long-term research collaborations that celebrate and foreground Indigenous knowledge and relationships to land.”

READ MORE: 60 per cent of all Canadian Indigenous languages are in BC

According to the release, Thom was part of a small team that advised Google in the development of Google Earth’s capacity to play audio clips, a feature he often heard requested by Indigenous communities.

He has been collaborating with yutustanaat and the Hul’q’umi’num’ communities since the early 1990s.

To create the Voyager story, they worked with students from Ladysmith Secondary School to create audio recordings of yutustanaat.

The new Voyager story will be highlighted on the main international Google desktop search page around the world.

READ MORE: NHL called in Cree helps revive, sustain Indigenous language: hockey analyst



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

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UVic anthropologist Brian Thom at Hwsaaqw’um (Holland Creek) after the Hul’q’umi’num’ language recordings with yutustanaat Mandy Jones (Snuneymuxw First Nation). Hwsaaqw’um is an important place in the Coast Salish cultural landscape near Ladysmith, B.C. (Brian Thom/Submitted)

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