Note to readers: The deadline for online participant registration for Wikimania 2017 in Montreal is Monday July 31st. Participants can still attend after this date on site, but availability may be limited.

Wikimania is coming to Montreal August 9-13. The annual global conference celebrates the popular Wikipedia knowledge resource and its sister knowledge products. The advancement of free knowledge, privacy and digital rights and the role of technology to further those objectives are at the core of the keynote and community submitted talks at Wikimania. If all you experienced is getting the occasional online information on the free you are missing out on what made the grassroots Wiki concept a success – the fifth largest visited site on the web.

Wikimedia founder Jimmy Wells, lower left, never dissapoints in his keynotes at the annual worldwide Wikimania events

Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, will be addressing the timely topic of “community and information in a partisan world”. There are five keynote sessions by worldwide experts, more than 100 community-submitted talks and over a dozen workshops. Global software writers will also participate in a two-day hackathon producing innovative programs for the Wiki world.

Canada will be there in full force led by Wikimedia Canada President Benoit Rochon who will talk about Canadian accomplishments like the archives of BAnQ (Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec) on Wikimedia Commons which have been viewed more than 30 million times. He will also share the first aboriginal encyclopedia in Canada in the Atikamekw language on Wikipedia and the WikiMed conference –  all unique accomplishments.

The Moose Town Atikamekw Pow-wow singers will be part of the opening ceremony among other First Nations performers. “They are a young energetic group offering a unique Canadian cultural experience to Wikimania” said Rochon.

Wikipedia Canada President Benoit Rochon is proud of his team’s accomplishments in Canada

Rochon has been a Wikipedia volunteer since 2003 and a registered user since 2006. He remembers clapping endlessly, standing on a chair at his first Wikimania 2012 in Washington D.C.

He explained the challenges of starting a new Wikipedia in the Atikamekw language, one of more than 50 First Nations languages in Canada, including Cree. “The project was started in 2013 with scholars and now there are more than 300 articles for Atikamekw students to search through by simply starting to type, in their language,” said Rochon. It’s a pretty amazing accomplishment considering Atikamekw is a spoken language, not written, he said, adding that article sources had to come from elders who were interviewed. “We also had the challenge of incorporating new words in Atikamekw, like ‘download’” he added.

What effect does today’s sometimes fashionable “fake news” have on Wikipedia?  ” Since fake news is happening all over the world right now, we are constantly refreshing the list of what we consider unreliable sources,” said Rochon, citing National Canadian newspapers and TV Stations, traditional Encyclopedias and Radio Canada as reliable sources.

How does Rochon, an unpaid volunteer with Wikipedia cope balancing family and work? “We have a family business with my mother, father and brothers who are very understanding” he said.  “Like giving me time for this interview. I consider my parents are contributors to Wikipedia!”

Indeed they are.



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