Revitalizing Indigenous Languages

November 10, 2021

Indigenous communities and various educational institutions have taken measures to prevent more language loss and to preserve Indigenous languages. Some have even used very innovative and advanced technologies to do so. As an example, the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY) has partnered with an augmented and virtual reality company called Mammoth to create Thunder VR, an immersive Blackfoot language preservation and culture learning tool. The virtual reality game, based on a Blackfoot graphic novel called Thunder, tells the ancient Blackfoot story of a man who loses his wife and must travel a great distance to challenge the spirit of Thunder (Ksistsikoom) to get her back. Thunder was developed by USAY youth and Kainai elder Randy Bottle (Saakokoto). The high-tech game, narrated by Saakokoto, is designed to teach the endangered Blackfoot language to a new generation of learners and is being advertised as a “mash-up” of tradition and technology. USAY and Mammoth, two Calgary-based organizations, have received funding from the Government of Canada and are planning to take Thunder VR, along with 27 Oculus Go headsets, to Calgary schools in fall 2019. Thunder VR is available as a free download on Oculus Go.1

As a result of these efforts, there has been some improvement. Statistics Canada revealed that 260,550 Indigenous people reported the ability to speak an Indigenous language; this represents a 3.1% increase from 2006. Also encouraging is the fact that in 2016, the number of Indigenous people able to speak an Indigenous language exceeded the number of those who reported an Indigenous mother tongue. According to Statistics Canada, this suggests an increase in the number of new speakers and language learners, especially among youth.2

  1. 2021. Indigenous Languages in Canada | The Canadian Encyclopedia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 February 2021].
  2. 2021. Indigenous Language Revitalization in Canada | The Canadian Encyclopedia. [online] Available at:  [Accessed 1 February 2021].