Online map highlights B.C.’s diverse Indigenous communities

Click to play video: 'Interactive First Peoples’ Map goes far beyond geography'
Interactive First Peoples’ Map goes far beyond geography
The First Peoples' Map, an interactive online map in Canada featuring information about Indigenous languages, arts and cultural heritage is now live. Catherine Urquhart reports – Jun 15, 2021

A new interactive tool aims to highlight the rich cultural diversity of Indigenous communities in B.C.

The First Peoples’ Map of B.C. provides information about the 34 First Nations languages spoken across the province.

Gerry Lawson of the Oral History and Language Lab at the UBC Museum of Anthropology said the map is valuable because it allows Indigenous people “to click on a website and hear pronunciation of your language, of greetings, of different phrases, the things that your community has allowed to be shared.”

Click to play video: 'Tapping into the healing power of Indigenous art'
Tapping into the healing power of Indigenous art

Lawson said the map also highlights public art and points of interest.

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“Reconciliation is a very strange process, it’s something that people approach in different ways,” he said. “I think every public art piece moves towards some reconciliation. It expresses something from artists and something from communities.

“I think having those in a trusted place online to go and visit and get that perspective is really important and that representation of having communities telling their own story is so important.

The living map is continuously updated by community experts in a collective effort to digitize and preserve Indigenous knowledge.

“I’m so excited about that part of it because it’s only going to grow, it’s only going to get better and more complete, whereas other projects get sort of locked in a period of time,” Lawson said.

Artist Hannah Mashon said the map is also a valuable tool for non-Indigenous people.

“It’s a great tool to educate themselves and really honour and learn about Indigenous cultures and arts and languages,” she said.

“I feel like there’s a real thirst for that right now.”

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