Networking for the Haida language

  • Feb. 19, 2010 11:00 a.m.

Teacher Maureen LaGroix is excited about using technology to teach the Haida language to a new generation, and she told school trustees about her latest initiative at the Jan. 26 school board meeting at Tahayghen in Masset. Ms LaGroix said she had been reflecting on new ways to teach Haida, and is now exploring a computer application called PBworks, which allows a community of users to share files and add their own information. She has set up a site called “talking together gudahlguusuuu” that can be accessed by the north-end schools. “I called it that because if you’re not talking together, the language isn’t there,” she said. The site contains information about the 13 family crests of Old Massett and their origins, with language and pictures, several Haida phrases, and even recordings of elders speaking. “There’s so many possibilities, there’s so many different things on here,” she said. “I’m hoping that everyone will use it and learn.” Islanders have really embraced networking sites like facebook, Ms LaGroix said, and she’s hoping they will apply those skills and that kind of technology to learn Haida. The site could potentially be used not just by students, she said, but also parents who want to see what their kids are learning, and anyone else who wants to learn. Ms LaGroix said she wants to make the information widely available, but there is some concern about copyright. Right now, users need a password to get onto the site. Elders have told her that they are worried people might take the language and crests and use them for their own benefit. Other than that, she said, the elders are enthusiastic about the Haida language being on the computer.