Amy Parent with her children using a virtual reality headset. The RNL project will use virtual reality to facilitate land-based learning practices for Nisga’a language learners. (Submitted Photo/Elahe Rajabi)

Amy Parent with her children using a virtual reality headset. The RNL project will use virtual reality to facilitate land-based learning practices for Nisga’a language learners. (Submitted Photo/Elahe Rajabi)

New project using virtual reality to revitalize Nisga’a language

Project also aims to repatriate original house pole from Scotland

A project launched by a University of British Columbia assistant professor in partnership with the Laxgalts’ap Village Government will use virtual reality (VR) to revitalize Nisga’a culture.

Virtual reality refers to a computer-generated simulation, where a person can use electronic devices like a headset or goggles to interact with an artificial three-dimensional environment.

UBC Department of Education Studies’ Amy Parent is working to produce “Raising Nisga’a Language, Sovereignty, and Land-Based Education Through Traditional Carving Knowledge” (RNL), a multi-year project that will be the first study of the Nisga’a language to develop language learning tools using VR technology.

The project also aims to repatriate an original house pole from the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and commission a new pole in the Nass Valley.

“[RNL] is an extremely urgent project and one that is necessary to the continued survival of our way of life,” said Parent, who is Nisga’a, in a media release.

“It’s important to me to show deep reverence to our ancestors by supporting efforts to keep our language and our culture not only alive, but thriving.”

The use of virtual reality will feature interviews with Nisga’a speakers and land-based walking tours. Only public names and seasonal harvesting activities like gathering bark for weaving will be recorded to respect Nisga’a protocols that govern the rights and ownership to traditional stories connected to the land.

The goal is to provide an immersive and virtual way for Nisga’a language learners outside of the Nass Valley to access their traditional territory.

According to the media release, the Nisga’a language is spoken fluently by only five per cent of Nisga’a citizens and is considered endangered.

RNL is partnered with the Laxgalts’ap Village government and will collaborate with Nisga’a language teacher Wal-aks Keane Tait, Elder Jerry Adams, Sim’oogit Duuk and Sim’oogit Niis Joohl.

“It’s a fantastic idea to use VR as a teaching tool to re-familiarize our people with the Nisga’a language in all its aspects,” said Sim’oogit Duuk in the release. “This project is exciting and it’s something I wish we’d been doing a long time ago.”

In addition to the VR aspect of the project, RNL aims to repatriate the Niis Joohl Pole from Scotland, which was taken by Canadian ethnographer Marius Barbeau in 1929. That process is set to begin in 2021, when a committee of Nisga’a citizens from the House of Niis Joohl are scheduled to make an exploratory visit to the museum.

The last aspect of the project is commissioning a pole by two Nisga’a artists which will reinforce the Nisga’a Nation’s “self governance, pride, memory and cultural sovereignty” and be included as part of the VR content.

READ MORE: Community gathers for a monumental totem pole raising along B.C.’s Highway of Tears

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

This BC Hydro map shows some of the power outages across Northern BC. Many were caused by high winds. (BC Hydro Website)
Power out across much of Northern BC

BC Hydro anticipates some may be without power overnight

Administering naloxone to a person experiencing a benzo-related overdose event won’t help. Naloxone is used to neutralize opioids. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress file photo)
Northern Health warning drug users of potential benzo contamination

The drug does not respond to naloxone, and is being included in street drugs

The food hub survey showed that over 61 per cent respondents were looking to expand their business. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
RDBN’s food hub survey highlights producers’ needs

The project team to set up further discussion sessions with producers this year

Marianne and Peter Giesbrecht of the Vanderhoof Tim Horton’s donated $4306 to the St. John Hospital Auxiliary Society. “The funds were raised through the efforts of the 2020 Tim Horton’s ‘Smile Cookie’ campaign and graciously donated to the St. John Auxiliary towards the purchase of Panda IRES (baby warmer) for the hospital. What a great way to finish of 2020!” as stated in a social media post by the hospital auxiliary group. (St. John Hospital Auxiliary Society/Facebook)
Vanderhoof Tim Horton’s donates to St. John Hospital Auxiliary Society

Marianne and Peter Giesbrecht of the Vanderhoof Tim Horton’s donated $4306 to… Continue reading

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
One in five tests in Fernie area coming back positive: doctor

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
From the “You can’t make this stuff up” file – stories from the BC CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

(Black Press Media files)
Woman steals bottles of wine after brandishing stun baton in New Westminster

Police say the female suspect was wearing a beige trench coat with fur lining

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Vancouver Island paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadian malls, conference centres, hotels offer up space for COVID vaccination centres

Commercial real estate association REALPAC said that a similar initiative was seeing success in the U.K.

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

Most Read