An interactive exhibit from the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria has made its way to Vancouver Island.
From Oct. 15 to Jan. 2, the Qualicum Beach Museum will be home to a variety of interactive stations that use video, audio, text and photo to learn more about the past and present of Indigenous languages throughout B.C.
Our Living Languages: First Peoples’ Voices in B.C. focuses on the ways communities in B.C. are working to preserve, revitalize and share the 32 distinct First Nations languages across the province.
The project is a collaboration between the Royal B.C. Museum and the First Peoples’ Cultural Council.
Interested onlookers can watch short videos filmed across the province that show the ways First Nations peoples are bringing their languages back to life after colonial institutions like residential schools attempted to strip Indigenous peoples of their knowledge and traditional ways of being.
I went to the @qbmuseum museum to check out the @RoyalBCMuseum interactive exhibit "Our Living Languages: First Peoples' Voices in BC." Here's me getting out of my comfort zone and attempting to pronounce characters not found in English! @ParksvilleNews pic.twitter.com/PR1l5FIrRC
— Emily Vance (@Emily__Vance) October 16, 2019
While the history of Indigenous/settler relations in Canada can be a dark chapter, the exhibit instead focuses on the sweeping wave of Indigenous language revitalization that is currently underway. Spoiler alert: the videos on display at the QB Museum are full of adorable, happy children speaking in the traditional language of their ancestors.
They show a variety of scenes from across the province, including a elementary school math class in Secwepemc, a Halq’emeylem lullaby shared between three generations and a puppet named Ts’ak that teaches children to speak Nisga’a.
Qualicum Beach Museum manager Netanja Waddell is thrilled to be able to offer this travelling exhibit and share knowledge throughout the community.
“It… speaks to what is going on in terms of Indigenous communities around the province. And then we have an opportunity specifically to speak about what is going on with the Qualicum First Nations,” said Waddell.
The exhibit had its official launch on Thursday, Oct. 10, where several members of the Qualicum First Nations spoke about the current Pentlach Language Revitalization project that their nation has been undertaking.
“We’re happy, and glad that we can actually be the place where this is happening, and where we’re talking about this. It’s an important topic of conversation, especially since 2019 was declared by UNESCO as the year for Indigenous languages,” said Waddell.
In addition to videos, the exhibit includes an interactive map of the First Nations languages spoken throughout B.C. including statistics on number of speakers, as well as listening stations where people can hear traditional songs and delve into the pronunciation of characters and letters not found in the English language.
Admission to the QB Museum is by suggested donation of $5 per person. It is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Group visits outside of these hours can be arranged by calling 250-752-5533.