UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Connection, collaboration and community : reflections on the use of videoconferencing in Kaska language documentation, revitalization and education Sear, Victoria Frances


This thesis addresses how stakeholders of Kaska, a Dene Athabaskan language spoken in northeastern British Columbia and the southeastern Yukon, have incorporated videoconferencing technology into their long-distance language documentation, revitalization and education practices. Many speakers and communities of endangered, Indigenous, and minority languages who live in remote regions are at a disadvantage simply because of their remoteness, which has limited their ability to access funding, form partnerships and work with language researchers. In turn, historically such Indigenous languages — their speakers, their stakeholders and their projects — have been under-resourced. This thesis discusses how a team of Kaska language workers have used a professional videoconferencing platform to regularly engage in long-distance collaborative language projects between Watson Lake, Yukon, and Vancouver, British Columbia. While language projects often focus either on documentation or revitalization of a language, in these videoconferencing sessions project collaborators are able to integrate these two activities. The incorporation of this technology in their language work has had several positive by-products for project collaborators, including strengthened personal relationships, a heightened sense of connectedness to language, land and each other, and an interdependence on each other that also distributes authority, all of which have formed a community of practice that has made this language team into invested collaborators. Ultimately, this research suggests that in certain circumstances, videoconferencing technology can be used to support language documentation, revitalization and education, as well as the people who undertake such projects, in a myriad of ways that extends beyond the intended outputs of the projects themselves.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International