British Columbia’s First Peoples’ Cultural Council is using innovative technology to make over 100 First Nations languages available on mobile devices.
In British Columbia, there are 203 First Nations communities with 34 languages and 61 dialects. While it is true that the number of older, fluent speakers has declined, language revitalization is paying off with the next generation. Twenty-nine per cent of semi-fluent speakers are under 25.
The First Peoples’ Cultural Council has just celebrated its 25th anniversary and is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to promote First Nations language and culture. This year, they launched a new keyboard app for mobile devices that allows First Nations speakers to email, text or send documents written in their own language.
“Mobile technology is such an integral part of our lives. It’s difficult to imagine that many people have not been able to use their devices to communicate in their own language,” said John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. “This new app is an exciting boost to the revitalization of Indigenous language and I applaud the First Peoples’ Cultural Council for continuing their innovative work.”
The app was developed as a direct response to First Nations’ youth who could not use their mobile device in their own language because many First Nations’ languages use unique characters unavailable on mobile technology. The new FirstVoices keyboard app allows the user to download more than 100 custom keyboards, select the keyboard they want and start to type in their own language.
“We are so excited to be able to offer this new keyboard app, which is the first of its kind in the world, to allow easy communication on a mobile device in so many languages,” said Tracey Herbert, CEO at the First Peoples’ Cultural Council. “We were able to leverage our previous work in language technology to create this entirely new app, and are proud to share it at no cost in the spirit of Indigenous language revitalization.”
Download the app:
- iTunes download: itunes.apple.com/ca/app/firstvoices-keyboards/id1066651145?mt=8
- Android download: play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.firstvoices.keyboards
- First Peoples’ Cultural Council is a B.C. Crown corporation dedicated to the revitalization of First Nations languages, arts and heritage in British Columbia.
- The FirstVoices keyboard app is free and, as well as containing the keyboards relevant to Canadian First Nations, it includes software for Indigenous languages in New Zealand and some in Australia and the United States.
First Peoples’ Cultural Council: www.fpcc.ca/
Edward HillMedia Relations
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation