Prince Rupert local lad Brendan Eshom, has made a hit with his newly released ‘Sm’algyax Word’ software application reaching the Apple App Stores “Top Charts” on July 13, after the weekend release just two days prior.
“The popularity is great. It means people are engaging,” Eshom said, excited about the app being 104th out of the top 200 most popular apps on the Apple Store.
The locally designed and developed Indigenous language education software is a free application for mobile devices that builds on Eshom’s smalgyaxword.ca website, which was launched in November 2019. Each day a new word from the Sm’algyax language is added to a curated collection of terms. The culturally based progam is continually updated with current relative or seasonal phrases and words, Eshom said.
“Growing up as part of the Gitga’at First Nation, I have immersed myself in study of Sm’algyax,” Eshom said. “I am excited to share my passion for the language with audiences both here at home and around the world.”
Freshly graduated from high school in June 2020, Eshom launched the website when his grade 12 timetable could not accommodate a Sm’algyax language course. Sm’algyax is spoken in numerous communities in northern B.C. and is taught to all students in School District 52.
“Researching and sharing vocabulary, both online and through the app, have become means of self-directed study,” Eshom said.
“Tradition and history are embedded in language,” Eshom said, “Illuminating Sm’algyax means revealing a worldview that is unique to Ts’mysen culture. It’s humbling to witness the ongoing revitalization of the language, thanks to its speakers, learners, and advocates.”
Eshom started work on the app in March, and funding for the development came through in a grant from the Gitga’at First Nation, after he submitted an application in April. The app launched publicly on July 11. The project was endorsed by the Sm’algyax Language Authority, which ensures control and accountability over the language.
The free Sm’algyax Word app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Eshom will be attending the University of British Columbia in September. He plans to continue distributing Sm’algyax language resources through a growing number of channels.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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