FORT SMITH, NT – The South Slave Divisional Education Council has taken another step towards language revitalization with the release of their new Ɂëk’éch’a Helá “Scramble” Chipewyan board game – similar to the popular game Scrabble.
The game was designed by Paul W. Kaeser High School’s Chıpewyan language instructor Paul Boucher, who understands that making language learning interactive increases retention. He designed the tiles to include all letters of the Chıpewyan alphabet, including oral, nasal and high tone accents. The board itself replicates Scrabble, although all of the points that players can acquire are in the Aboriginal language instead of English.
To make the game more accessible, Boucher ensures each of his students have access to one of the SSDEC’s two Chipewyan Dictionaries (either the Fort Resolution or the Łutsel K’e version) when they take out the game in class. He plays alongside the students, checking their letters and prompting them to think of words they already know.
Assistant Superintendent Brent Kaulback was one of the first to test out the game after the students had played a few rounds, and commented, “Weeks later, I can still recall not only the words that I played, but also words that others found in the dictionary and spelled out. To be able to learn and recall a dozen words thanks to just one round is quite astounding.”
The SSDEC is looking into developing Slavey and Cree versions of the game as well; but for now will be selling copies of Ɂëk’éch’a Helá “Scramble” for $70.