Tseshaht Language Technology Project 

January 12, 2023

Supported by FPCC’s Language Technology Program, c̓išaaʔatḥ(Tseshaht) Knowledge Holders and the Tseshaht First Nation Language Team combined digitization and FirstVoices projects to greatly expand their c̓išaaʔatḥ FirstVoices site. 

The Tseshaht Language Team’s work is a great example of how FPCC’s Language Technology Program (LTP) is supporting language revitalization in communities. LTP provides funding, equipment and training for both FirstVoices and digitization projects in one application. 

When the Tseshaht First Nation relaunched their language program in 2019, they developed a strategic plan in consultation with c̓išaaʔatḥ community members, Elders, language learners and teachers. A priority in the plan was to ensure that the community’s language resources are accessible today and secure for the future.

Since that time, with the support of FPCC’s LTP, the Tseshaht Language Team has been digitizing the contents of an old language archive and documenting the language with fluent speakers to add new resources to their FirstVoices site. Since 2019, the project has added over 6,000 words, phrases and songs to support the next generation of nuučaan̓uł language learners and teachers.

FPCC’s LTP supports resource digitization projects and the development of community-managed language sites on FirstVoices.com. The program is accepting applications for the 2023-24 program year until January 24, 2023. 

Graphic image with three photos of the Tseshaht Language Team who are recipients of the FPCC Language Technnoloy Program funding for language revitalization.

ciciqateʔis (Speak to Me)
As part of this project, members of the Tseshaht Language Team work closely with c̓išaaʔatḥ Knowledge Holders to create and upload recordings and translations onto the c̓išaaʔatḥ FirstVoices site, which now contains over 9,000 nuučaan̓uɫ words, phrases, songs, stories, audio files and images. The FirstVoices technology makes it easy for learners of all ages and geographic locations to access these important cultural resources and interact with their language.

So much time and resources and technical ability have gone into the FirstVoices platform that we don’t have to worry about,” says Tseshaht First Nation Language Coordinator Dawn Foxcroft. “It gives us the ability to focus on building relationships with our speakers and recording the language. A priority of our language program is to have somewhere to put all this knowledge with some structure, support and training.” 

A screen shot of a language entry on the Tseshaht  FirstVoices site. It shows the phrase "speak to me".

ʔuušuksnaʔaał (To Figure Out Something Complicated)  
An added layer of complexity to language revitalization in the digital era is ensuring that old photographs, audio recordings and other digital materials are preserved in a secure way for future generations. These safeguards are critical to protecting this important resource for the future. 

“We used the digitization grant for a backup system,” says Grant. “We now have multiple backup systems with two hard drives: one in our Language House and one in our administration building.”  

Converting some of these materials into new digital formats can be challenging. LTP funding provides the language team with equipment, training and ongoing support to convert older recordings, such as audio cassettes and VHS tapes, into mp3 files. The work ensures that the knowledge held in valuable community archives can be managed, protected and accessed by the community on their FirstVoices site.    

hupiiwit̓asin (We Are Going to Help) 
FPCC combined project options in LTP to simplify the funding application and reporting process. With a single application, communities can get funding for both digitization work and FirstVoices development. This has provided the Tseshaht Language Team with more time to focus on recording, organizing, optimizing and recording content on their FirstVoices site. 

“I’ve always had an affinity with technology,” says Data Technician Grant Watts. “When I first came on with the team, I was really excited and wanted to know what could be done with FirstVoices and how we could add to it.”  

LTP includes equipment and training for participants, so they have the skills and technology to digitize, record and manage their language resources. By working on their own community’s language site, community members develop skills and contribute directly to the revitalization of their language.  

“FirstVoices is such an invaluable tool,” says Jocelyn Dick, Data Technician and Archive Trainee. “It’s an amazing opportunity for many First Nations to document their language.”  

We raise our hands and say ƛ̓ekoo (thank you) to the c̓išaaʔatḥ Knowledge Holders, Language Team and community members for their dedicated work to keep their language alive and accessible.  

Apply for the Language Technology Program! 
FPCC is currently accepting applications for LTP.  

  • $230K in funding to B.C. First Nations and related organizations 
  • Equipment and training to support language revitalization using technology 
  • Components supported by this program: FirstVoices, Digitization and Development. 

The deadline to apply is January 24, 2022. 

If you are interested in learning more, check out the LTP page for details and to view the information session. 

The FPCC Language Technology Program is funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage as a result of the Indigenous Languages Act.  

Learn More 
Check out the c̓išaaʔatḥ (Tseshaht) FirstVoices site here
To download the c̓išaaʔatḥ (Tseshaht) FirstVoices app on iOS, click here
To download the c̓išaaʔatḥ (Tseshaht) FirstVoices app on Android, click here
Visit the c̓išaaʔatḥ (Tseshaht) Language Program here
View our other community success stories here
To view all current FPCC language funding opportunities click here.

Dawn Foxcroft presented at the Endangered Languages Project’s Festival of Indigenous Languages in January 2022. Check out her presentation as she shares about her work to reclaim and revitalize nuučaan̓uɫ? in B.C. To view all of the videos from this festival, click here.

Share Your Story! 
Do you have a story about the work your community is doing to revitalize First Nations languages, arts, cultures and heritage in B.C.? We want to hear from you! Please send your story to info@fpcc.ca and check back as we post more stories about the good work being done across the province. 

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