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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Developing an augmented reality app in Secwepemctsín in collaboration with the Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn (Splatsin Teaching Centre) Society Lacho, David Dennison


In this thesis, I describe over two years of collaboration and engagement between Splatsin First Nation Elders, community members, staff that work at the Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn (Splatsin Teaching Centre) Society, and myself, a Master’s student at UBC Okanagan. In particular, I describe how we have developed an augmented reality app for language revitalization in Splatsin’s dialect of Secwepemctsín. In this project, I drew on Indigenous methodologies, the community-based language research model, and digital ethnography as theory to conduct my research. Specifically, this involved including community members as community research partners. By forming a research team that involves community members as researchers, this project respects community members’ knowledge, control, and ownership of the research project and approaches relationship and trust building as guiding the research process. This ensured that the Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn retained ownership and control of the project at all stages of the research. Secwepemctsín is an endangered language. In total, there are less than one hundred speakers of the language. In addition, Splatsin’s dialect of Secwepemctsín only has a handful of speakers, most of whom are approaching ninety years old. The Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn (Splatsin Teaching Centre) Society, a registered not-for-profit organization for documenting and teaching Splatsin’s language and culture, often uses technology for language revitalization. As such, my community research partners and I developed an app in Secwepemctsín that draws on stories from a community play, called Tuwitames (she/he is growing up). These stories, called stsptakwla, convey important lessons and cultural knowledge and also draw attention to assimilation practices of Residential Schools and the Sixties Scoop. Through my participant observation in the community, interviews, community meetings, and online questionnaires, community research partners and community members guided the direction and development of the app, and we tested the app in the community. Our shared research project highlights respect, relevance, reciprocity, and responsibility by establishing collaborative research goals, and can be a model for other research projects that involve developing digital technology for communities engaged in endangered language revitalization.

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