20 Years of FirstVoices.com: Legacies & Memories


Originally a partnership with LÁU, WELṈEW̱ Tribal School (W̱SÁNEĆ), FirstVoices.com was the tireless work of respected Elder & Knowledge Holder J,SINTEN, John Elliott, linguist Peter Brand, and community language advocates seeking a solution to authentic and ethical representation of language online.

Today, this visionary platform has grown to host languages across the province of B.C. and even beyond through the continued work of dedicated Elders, community teams, and a team of developers.

In celebration of the 20th anniversary, an event was held at the Songhees Wellness Centre with remarks from the co-founders of FirstVoices, a performance by the ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱ Tribal School, the first-time screening of a FirstVoices mini-documentary, and more!

Watch the FirstVoices Mini-Documentary

Featured in this video (in order of appearance):

  • Dr. Lorna Wánosts’a7 Williams, Líl’wat Nation & Chair of the First Peoples' Cultural Foundation

  • Enti7ána - Smúkwaca Deanna Cook, Splatsín First Nation

  • ošil Betty Wilson, Tla’amin Nation

  • Sicarii Leeland Askew, X̱wemelch'stn Village (Squamish Nation)

  • Tracey Herbert, St'uxwtews First Nation & Chief Executive Officer of the First Peoples' Cultural Council

  • XELTEN Peter Brand, FirstVoices Co-founder & former FirstVoices Manager

  • J,SIṈTEN John Elliott, W̱SÁNEĆ & FirstVoices Co-founder & SENĆOŦEN Language Teacher

  • Bridget Chase, FirstVoices Development Manager

  • Marilyn Harry, Klahoose Nation

  • čiya Gail Blaney, Tla’amin Nation

  • Tswum Rosalind Williams, Splatsín First Nation

  • Ntlólo Emmeline Felix, Splatsín First Nation

  • Dennis Patrick, Stellat’en First Nation

  • kíka7 Janette Sampson, Líl’wat Nation

  • tseskinxem Fred Louie, Tla’amin Nation

Community Acknowledgements & Remarks

Want to add your story or give a shout out to a lifelong contributor to language revitalization? Fill out this link to have yours posted below: Share Your Story!

Below are some of the remarks and memories of the teams & learners who have worked on and used FirstVoices over the last two decades:

There are all different ways of learning, and one of them is through technology. Language apps will not make us fluent, but they provide a tool for those not wishing to put in the hundreds of hours to become fluent but to engage with language technology in a meaningful way in their spare time. I have been inspired by Joshua Fishman and other methods to dedicate the hundreds of hours to study in immersion groups following a sequenced curriculum.

Sʔím̓laʔxʷ Michele Johnson, Syilx Language House Association