Programs & Projects
FirstVoices, is an internationally recognized suite of online and mobile app-based language archiving and learning tools. Language communities receive training and technical support to develop and manage their own language and culture archives and resources. FirstVoices is administered by the First Peoples’ Cultural Council.
FirstVoices currently has 35 B.C. First Nations language and dialect archives in various stages of development, including two new archives added this year. FirstVoices also houses 35 archives for languages outside the province of B.C., including new archives for two Australian languages.
The Foundation, through contributions from its generous funders, financed several FirstVoices projects this year.
The FirstVoices Language Lab
This innovative, online, language-teaching software is delivered on the Apple iPad platform. Its courseware and content were created in collaboration with two provincial governments, eight Aboriginal communities and four school districts. The FirstVoices Language Lab will be used in schools across the Province to instill First Nations languages in our youth.
Funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Canada Interactive Fund (CIF), and the First Nations Technology Council supported the development of the FirstVoices Language Lab.
FirstVoices Chat was developed in response to First Nations youth who want to communicate via social media in their own languages. This groundbreaking mobile app allows people to compose and send text messages in the unique characters of their own Indigenous languages of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States are built into the app.
First Nations Technology Council supported the development of the keypad and chat app. Research and development of the custom keypad prototype was funded by a grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Aboriginal Languages Initiative (ALI) in the previous fiscal year.
SENĆOŦEN Documentation Project
Funding from the Victoria Foundation allowed the SENĆOŦEN language community to develop a new, comprehensive database of everyday language to foster and encourage the use of SENĆOŦEN in every situation.
The Victoria Foundation granted $15,000 for this project. Please note that the original funding was delivered in 2010/11, but the project was deferred until fiscal 2011/12.
Pre-school Language Nests
The Foundation continues to fund Pre-school Language Nests administered through the First Peoples’ Cultural Council.
In Language Nests, children aged 0-5 years old and their parents are immersed in their language and culture in an environment that encourages healthy families and building strong intergenerational ties. Community resource people participate as language and culture experts, and Language Nest teachers are wither fluent speakers or are in the process of becoming fluent speakers of their languages. In addition, Language Nests create opportunities for young parents to learn the language and bring it back into their homes and daily lives.
The program’s success is built on the principles that young children learn language more naturally than any other age group and that immersion is the most effective way to create fluent speakers. The goal of the project is to create a new generation of fluent speakers.
The First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation dedicated $100,000 to Language Nests this year.
Trust Fund Initiatives
In 2007, the Foundation established an Early Childhood Development Language Resources Fund through a $2 million grant from the Province of British Columbia Ministry of Children and Family Development. The Foundation committed $100,000 a year over three years toward Language Nests for pre-school children and their parents to become fluent in their traditional languages. The program was very successful and the commitment was renewed in 2010/11 for another three years.
Foundation Investment Policy
The Foundation has engaged Phillips Hagar North as its investment advisor, which has reported to the Board that the Foundation’s investments are currently being held in secure funds. The funds have generated interest income during the past fiscal year and have not been subject to the impacts of the recent worldwide investment downturn.