New Cree language app targets students, teachers and newcomers

More than 150 elders from five northern Alberta First Nations have contributed to a new tool designed to preserve Cree words and phrases.

The free app, KTCEA Elders Speak, is a product of the Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council Education Authority, which oversees six schools within five northern Alberta First Nations: Peerless Trout First Nation, Whitefish Lake First Nation, Loon River First Nation, Lubicon Lake Band, and Woodland Cree First Nation.

The app documents Cree as it is spoken in the region northwest of Grande Prairie, Alta. Students who use it will find 900 Cree words and phrases identifying local plants, wildlife and daily activities. Each word was recorded by a local elder.

“We chose an app to preserve the language so we could hear our elders speak for many years to come,” said Audrey Anderson, the education authority’s land-based curriculum co-ordinator.

In an interview with CBC’s Radio Active, Anderson said she worked with elders from all five of the First Nations for several years to gather material for the app.

“I’m so proud of the the teaching tool that came to be through their direction and their vision of what our students should be learning in our education authority,” she said.

Curriculum co-ordinator Audrey Anderson said elders were asked to choose categories and words for the app based on what they wanted children to learn. (Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council Education Authority)

Anderson expects the app will also be used to educate newcomers, including teachers, in the region.

The education authority funded the app with grants from the provincial and federal governments.

KTCEA Elders Speak is available on Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

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