Penticton News

Technology helping to preserve the Syilx language

From left to right: Tyrone, Skyler and Neien Kruger working on a stop motion animation project at a Syilx language workshop taking place this week on the Penticton Indian Band reserve.

PENTICTON - A three-day language workshop at Penticton Indian Band’s En’owkin Centre is part of an ongoing effort to rebuild and regenerate the Syilx language.

En’owkin interim education coordinator Tracey Kim Bonneau says the workshop has attracted around 30 people from all over the Okanagan Nation, with Syilx-fluent elders coming from Vernon, Merritt, Westbank First Nation, the Similkameen and Penticton.

A number of youth are also attending the workshop, which runs from Aug. 27 through Aug. 30.

This week’s workshop will develop storyboards using natural materials, with participants animating their names through stop motion animation technology. They are also animating old stories that have been passed on for generations. The workshop’s productions will be utilized as teaching and learning resources for cultural development and language courses.

“Language revitalization has been ongoing at the Penticton Indian Band for 40 years,” Bonneau says, adding many youth are developing and becoming fluent in the Syilx language.

Bonneau says the Syilx language is considered critically endangered, as there are only 150 fluent speakers left in the Okanagan Nation.

The use of natural materials in creating scenes while animating names and old stories is in keeping with tradition, Bonneau says.

Reel to Real executive director Venay Felton, who is hosting the workshop, says participants make a scene based on their name, take pictures, move objects in the scene and continue taking pictures. Software then puts the stop camera images together to make a movie.

“Animating names is a good way to introduce animation, in addition to teaching the language,” Felton says.

Some of the completed animations will be posted on YouTube or to the Our World Language website here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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