Brendon Eshom isn’t wasting a moment of his youth. This Prince Rupert resident (originally from Hartley Bay) is proud of his heritage and wants you to know it. He’s on a quest to introduce the Sm’algyax dialect of the Ts’msyen language to more people.
These days, fewer people are speaking Sm’algyax, but with Brendon’s help, that’s about to change.
Learning About Heritage Through Language
According to Brendon, language isn’t just about words but also respect for yourself, others, and all living things. It ties you to the values of all First Nations people. Knowing and speaking your traditional language ties you to your history and tradition.
Close with his family, Brendon learned about Sm’algyax mostly from his great-grandmother. She would explain the language and help Brendon relate to it.
Language can become a lifelong thing you do, and Brendon shows everyone exactly how to bring life back into a language that’s in decline.
Helping Younger Generations Learn Sm’algyax
Brendon is a language advocate who shows people what’s possible through action. This Charles Hayes Secondary School graduate and member of Prince Rupert And District Chamber of Commerce Rising Stars program turned his language into a passion project.
Brendon built both a website and a word of the day app that helped pass on the language to future generations. The app has done amazing since it launched in 2020, with more than 600 downloads in the first week. It was so successful that in July 2020, it reached number 104 in Apple’s Top 200 ranked apps.
Pushing Forward, Even in Tough Times
After Brendon’s language app launched, it was mysteriously removed by Apple. They sent Brendon an email saying it was taken down because of ‘fraudulent behaviour’ that broke their agreements. Brendon put in massive effort trying to contact Apple to clear up the confusion, but it was impossible to make contact. Not one to give up, Brendon kept trying to get his app reinstated.
He ended up reaching out to Global BC Consumer Matters. The show helped him sort out the problem, resulting in an apology from Apple, saying that it was a miscommunication. The app is now back up and running.
Making Sm’algyax More Accessible
Since Brendon’s app launched, he’s been on a crusade to bring his culture forward. One big win is collaborating with Californian software programmer Harris Mowbray, who helped create a braille alphabet for Sm’algyax. With this inclusion, people with visual issues can still speak and learn the language just like everyone else. The Braille Sm’algyax alphabet launched on Brendon’s website on July 9, 2021.
Making a Mark at a Young Age
You would never know that Brendon had a speech impediment in childhood. This young man has found a confident voice, and he’s using it to keep the traditions and language of his culture alive. He feels like it’s his responsibility to build on what other people have done and promote his language and traditions.
Brendon, you’re doing a fantastic job. We can’t wait to see what you do next!