FirstVoices is a suite of technology, tools and services that provide the opportunity for Indigenous communities to securely document, revitalize and share their language data. It includes a unique online resource, FirstVoices.com, more than 100 keyboards giving users the ability to write in their language anywhere, offline dictionary apps, and an active help desk for support capacity building. In communities with few fluent speakers, language documentation is critical to keeping languages alive. Since 2003 the Foundation has provided grants and training that support communities to upload dictionaries, alphabets, songs, stories, words and phrases, as well as audio and video content to their FirstVoices language sites.
These resources are then accessible to language learners, teachers and community members no matter where they are. This is especially important considering that over three-quarters of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in B.C. live off-reserve and are not as likely to have access to language and cultural programming as those on reserve.
In addition, rights to materials uploaded to FirstVoices remain with the communities who uploaded them, meaning that they can care for and access this information whenever needed.
In addition to funding community grants, the Foundation funds the development of up-to-date and user-friendly language technology. When technology becomes incompatible or outdated, users may lose access to language resources that were created over thousands of hours. The funding that the Foundation provides to keep FirstVoices technology up-to-date is critical to ensure that languages are accessible for future generations.