The First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation delivers funding for projects that support the vitality of Indigenous languages, arts, and cultural heritage.
FirstVoices is an internationally recognized online Indigenous language resource that allows communities to securely document their language. 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 community archives.
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 culture 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 When technology becomes incompatible or outdated, users may lose access to language resources that were created over thousands of hours.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.
Research and Development
The First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation drives innovation by sponsoring the development of groundbreaking research and state-of-the-art resources to support Indigenous language, arts and cultural revitalization. The research that we sponsor has informed the development of evidence-based programs with proven results. Our research has also helped to influence new policy and legislation grounded in Indigenous perspectives.
For example, engagement on language legislation and research on language costing was instrumental to the development of Canada’s Indigenous Languages Act and was used to advocate for a funding model that recognized the diversity of First Nations languages in B.C. This has brought significant funding increases to Indigenous language revitalization in B.C. The Foundation also funded the development of a policy paper on Indigenous cultural heritage. This paper has received international recognition and is influencing programs and policies in the heritage sector to better safeguard Indigenous cultural heritage through Indigenous-led approaches.
Resources for Communities
The First People’s Cultural Foundation funds the development of resources for communities. These resources are based on community-identified needs and support the vitality of Indigenous languages, arts and cultural heritage. Some examples include dictionary apps, language documentation tools, educational webinars and language learning tools such as handbooks, guides, video series and immersion flashcards. The Foundation has also funded the development of the (First Peoples’ Map of B.C.), an interactive map that provides searchable information about languages, Indigenous artists and Indigenous heritage sites across B.C. These resources contribute to addressing the demand for more learning tools designed specifically by and for Indigenous people.
Building Skills and Capacity
The First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation honours Indigenous expertise by supporting the development of the technical skills and expertise needed to rebuild Indigenous cultural systems. The Foundation funds specialized training and professional development workshops in a number of areas of language revitalization. Regional coaches lead community-based workshops on language revitalization planning, and specialized training is provided to participants of Mentor-Apprentice and Language Nest programs. The Foundation’s flagship language technology, FirstVoices, is available to Indigenous communities with technology support and training.
The specialized training that the Foundation funds not only enables Indigenous communities to find success in their language projects and programs, but it also provides transferable skills in project management, facilitation, administration and technology. Through our ongoing support of skills and capacity development, the populations of Indigenous language champions, artists and arts practitioners, and cultural heritage specialists will continue to grow.