mi'kmaw language keyboard

Apple’s Mi’kmaw Language Keyboard: Preserving Culture

The support of an unexpected source, Apple, has helped in re-affirming the importance of one of the major aspects or elements of the Mi’kmaq indigenous communities of Nova Scotia – the Mi’kmaw language.

The leading technology firm in the world now offers a Mi’kmaw language keyboard targeting its consumers while communicating in Mi’kmaw dialects which could also help learners of the next generation. An educational institution that studies Mi’kmaq in 12 Nova Scotia areas is partnering with Apple on the project. This may be stimulating the more Mi’kmaw speaking or at least easing communication among young speakers.

Developing next-generational language learners:

This is considered a notable step in readying children to be competent speakers and writers of the Mi’kmaw language. Very optimistically, Patrick Denny, a Mi’kmaw speaker and writer, says this keyboard can be very helpful in native languages in Canada.

Denny is a member of Eskasoni First Nation community located 270 km northeast of Halifax. Young students in immersion will speak/spell properly using the Mi’kmaq orthography, he thinks by using the keyboard. Therefore, they will enhance their communication prowess and ensure that the next generations learn and understand the language.

Overcoming Hesitations in Language Usage:

Nonetheless, the readers and speakers have always been reluctant to write it in the Mi’kmaw language. Denny says that some do not feel comfortable writing the words in one’s indigenous language as they fear they might end up with the wrong spellings (Denny).

This could be overcome by using the Mi’kmaw language keyboard for Apple devices. It has found its way with the younger generations of people to their daily digital communication like text messages and Social Media. The addition of M’kmaw keyboard with appropriate spelling will further normalize its common use.

Revitalization through Technology:

As per Blaire Gould, an executive director of Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, language revitalization must incorporate knowledge from tradition and modern day technology. She has the conviction that for a language to survive it has to change or develop.

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Apple’s Mi’kmaw language keyboard:

Gould states Mi’kmaw language keyboard as an example of transformation in this process. The traditional approaches are being enriched with new means of utilizing the language, which is helping Mi’kmaw stay relevant in the changing times, but be true to itself.

This is in line with Apple’s promise on supporting the regeneration of First nation languages. ederbörd, an online application, is an example of an application that helps improve the communication process on the internet.

The Mi’kmaw keyboard will mark an important step in preserving and propagating native tongues. This is a welcome move by the Mi’kmaw people and they prove that technology can assist in the preservation of culture.

Apple and Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey collaborate:

The collaborative relationship between Apple and Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey is a true representation of what can be achieved through working together. Blaire Gould says that their relationship with Apple has lasted for several years, and Apple products, like iPads, are used in their classrooms.

This collaboration demonstrates the efforts to fuse the traditional knowledge with modern technology. However, Gould notes that the approach in Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, was initiated by Apple about a year ago and resulted in the development of the Mi’kmaw language keyboard.

The Mi’kmaw community had an active role in creating the Mi’kmaw language keyboard. Apple therefore met with the IT manager of Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, who in turn, consulted about 15 elders and language keepers from surrounding communities.

The participation of these elders was imperative to make sure that the presentation and correctness of the Mi’kmaw language in the keyboard conformed to what the community wanted and to the community traditions.

The use of a holistic approach to language preservation:

L’nui’suti being one of them is one of the Mi’kmaw language apps developed by J.R. Isadore who is the IT manager from Membertou First Nation.

He praise Apple for its contribution in rejuvenating First Nation languages, indicating that the Mi’kmaw language keyboard has words from various orthographies and dialects like Francis-Smith, Pacifique, and Listuguj. It also incorporates the schwa symbol which is also sensitive to the language nuances.

This shows that it is not just about constructing a keyboard but holistic approach of Mi’kmaq language preservation through creation of an entire language experience which reflects the diversity and richness of the Mi’kmaw language. Mi’kmaw language keyboard demonstrates Apple’s regard for cultural sensitivity and protection of Native tongues.


Apple’s Mi’kmaw language keyboard, an incredible achievement in the struggle to protect and promote Native languages, will help conserve the Mikmaat language. Apple works together with Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey in Nova Scotia and thus shows a support given to Mi’kmaw community.

The initiative provides Mi’kmaw language users with a practicable tool and a message of the value that must be associated with threatened languages in the digital times. As technology companies come to accept themselves as cultural preservers, languages like Mi’kmaw will continue to survive and flourish.

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