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Web technology helps preserve, promote Indigenous languages. (Victoria).

People around the world working to preserve and promote Indigenous languages now have a new tool at their disposal, thanks to the launch of the First Voices Aboriginal Languages Resource.

First Voices is a project of the First Peoples' Heritage, Language & Culture Council, a B.C.-based Aboriginal organization that has been working to support Aboriginal language training and preservation programs for more than a decade.

Pauline Terbasket is a member of the council, and is part of the First Voices development team. Terbasket, an Okanagan member of the Lower Similkameen Indian band, is also involved in preservation and promotion of Indigenous languages at the community level, working as a member of the Okanagan Indian Educational Resource Centre to help preserve and enhance Okanagan language and culture.

"First Voices is an Internet-based technology tool that uses the Web browser to enable Aboriginal language speakers to archive the text and sound and pictures and video, all the wonderful things we can do with technology today, only applying all those to language, to Indigenous languages," Terbasket explained.

Each Aboriginal community taking part will provide an alphabet, dictionary and phrase book on their section of the project Web site. The alphabet will include each character in a written version, as well in a sound file, allowing people using the site to hear how each character is pronounced. The dictionary section will include a word list, with translations and definitions for each word, as well as sound recordings of each word being spoken, and both still pictures and video images depicting the word.

One community that has already uploaded information onto the Web site is Moose Factory, Ont., Terbasket said. The community used some of the tools that it had already developed for language promotion, and applied those tools to the First Voices project.

The First Voices Web site had its official launch on Feb. 22, but although the project is now officially online, the work on the project is still very much ongoing. Staff are still working to address such issues as protection of intellectual property rights for the information that will be on the sites, as well as protection of the information from such things as system crashes and viruses. And so far, only a limited amount of Indigenous language information is available on the site.

For more information about the First Voices Aboriginal Language Project, visit the FPHLCC Web site at, or call the council office at 250-361-3456.
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Author:Petten, Cheryl
Publication:Wind Speaker
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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