Virtual Reality to engage youth about Rising Nisga’a language and culture
Raising Nisgaa

Virtual Reality to engage youth about Rising Nisga’a language and culture

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A new Nisga’a project plans to use VR to engage and support youth learning about the Nisga’a language and culture.

Raising Nisga’a Sovereignty, Language, and Land-based Education Through Traditional Carving Knowledge project is a multi-year, three-part assignment involving language learning development through VR.

“I think the language revitalization component is really important for us to continue trying to spark the interest and the commitment of our future generations of youth to learn their language and to engage in that. I see VR as one tool that can spark their imagination and their drive to either continue their language or begin learning that one or the other.” – Amy Parent, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia.

The project is a partnership between Amy Parent and hereditary chiefs of the Nisga’a Nation. It is funded by the New Frontiers in Research Fund of Social Sciences Humanities Research Council. Amy Parent also mentioned that no one at Nisga’a Nation has yet used VR to promote traditional language learning.

The project will operate on repatriating the Niis Joohl Pole, that was taken from the Nisga’a Nation in 1929 by Marius Barbeau, and ethnographer, and sold to the National Museum of Scotland.

Successfully restoring the connection to language and culture will take a path that comes from many directions. The project is expected to be rolled out in three segments but has been delayed because of COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Amy Parent, the first segment will start modeling a new house totem pole in June 2021. Amy also mentioned that depending on public health restrictions, the project would begin filming the VR part and then start the task of repatriating the pole from the Edinburgh museum.

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