Online multimedia aboriginal archive

Vancouver Sun, September 8, 2008

There is a new online archive called FirstVoices.ca aimed at preserving B.C.’s 32 remaining First Nation languages and culture.  I think this is a great idea because the languages of the Pacific Northwest are some of the most endangered languages in the world.

I took Linguistics in U and learned quite a bit about the sounds and structures of some of these languages.  A few of the recordings I heard during a phonetic transcription class were so old that they were on these large reels of tape.  Many of the speakers were elderly and most had passed away by the time I heard the recording.  Already 8 of the 40 original languages have gone extinct.  A language is simply not a language when there is no more live speakers of the tongue.

We, as Canadians, have done a disservice to our First Nations because in all honesty, we really know very little about their culture and traditions.  There are some cursory things that we learned in elementary schools, but daily life and ways of thinking are not covered in such detail.  Plus, we have plenty of stereotypes to fill our brains with inaccurate pictures.

I haven’t really looked at the site in depth, but it looks like a great resource which I hope will help to preserve all aboriginal languages in Canada.

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One comment

  1. It’s a good site, been around for three or four years now. Not updated often (probably due to the fact there just aren’t enough speakers), but it serves a vital purpose, as you mention.
    There are also some resources at the VPL for learning some of the local First Nations languages.
    Good blog.
    Best,
    Keefer

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