Overview of Aboriginal Languages
In Canada, there are over 60 Aboriginal languages spoken which are grouped into 12 distinct language families. Despite the diversity of languages, speakers fluent in these languages have been on the decline due to European settling of the land. Native tongue speakers tend to be elders with youth not learning the language. Because of this situation, Aboriginal language preservation efforts have been underway to conserve the way the language is spoken, prompting the development of revitalization tools (often aided with the rise of digital technology) so the language can live on for generations to come.
On this page, you'll find various websites, online dictionaries, videos, and tools to teach the language, phrases, vocabulary, grammar, and pronunction of some of the most common languages in Canada. More information on strategies for revitalizing these languages are also provided. There is also a listing of apps developed for smartphones and tablets so speakers can learn the languages on the go.
Selected Titles From The BearPaw Library
These select titles are available for loan in the BearPaw Resource Centre's physical library.
'Meet Cree' introduces the reader to the Cree language, mainly by showing how its structure differs from that of English. It does not attempt to teach the Cree language itself, but those who read the book will find it much easier to learn Cree afterwards."
These essays cover a wide array of topics ranging from practical concerns to linguistic theory. The authors discuss the cultural and social contexts of Native American dictionaries; the role these dictionaries play in the communities themselves: issues of definition, form, and organization posed by the structure of the languages; and the effects of new technology on the compilation, design, and accessibility of dictionaries. The book touches on many different languages including Nahuatl, Nez Perce, Huichol, Ulwa, Miskity, Hopi, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Siouan languages, Dogrib, Slave, Kaska, Maricopa, Zapotec, Ojibwa, Chippewa, Havasupai, Karuk, Sierra Miwok, and Mono.
Preserving First Nations Languages - Shaw TV Victoria
A key part of First Nations identity is their unique languages. Originally aired in June 2012, Shaw TV Victoria's Sucheta Singh tells us about the latest effort to preserve the languages using modern technology with a mobile phone app from the University of Victoria.
To download the free Yati language app discussed in this news video, visit the iTunes app store.
FirstVoices Language Archive
"FirstVoices is a suite of web-based tools and services designed to support Aboriginal people engaged in language archiving, language teaching and cultural revitalization. FirstVoices allows Aboriginal communities to use the latest technology to accurately document their language data and manage their own language resources to keep their languages and cultures vibrant and accessible for future generations."
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Dictionaries & Tools
For more information about each of these online dictionaries and tools, hover your mouse over each link for a brief description.
Language Statistics, Maps, And Facts
These resources provide some facts and figures about the state of Indigenous languages in Canada today.
See also the First Peoples' Language Map of B.C.
Programs & Workshops
Aboriginal Language Apps
These apps are available for use with your smartphone or tablet. Check the details for each app on its compatibility with your electronic device.
"This short documentary tells the story of Marie Wilcox, the last fluent speaker of the Wukchumni language and the dictionary she created in an effort to keep her language alive."
Vanishing Voices, Native languages
"By official count, there are more than 50 First Nations languages across Canada. Some are thriving. Dozens others, though, are in danger of disappearing. In this video by Leah Hennel, we take the pulse of Southern Alberta First Nations languages."
This video was produced by the Calgary Herald in October 2009.
First Speakers: Restoring The Ojibwe Language
"A ground breaking documentary about the Ojibwe people creating a language immersion school to save their language."
Released in 2010 by Twin Cities Public Television and made possible with funding from the Minnesota Historical Society. For more information about this documentary, please visit their official website.
Learning Ojibwe With Online Tutorials
In this short video, James Vukelich, the Indigenous language specialist for Minneapolis Public Schools, gives his insights teaching the Ojibwe language using digital tools and posting his language lessons online.
For more information about James Vukelich and his projects, please visit his website.
The Cherokee Language
Cherokee language segment taken from the documentary, "Voices of North Carolina."
More information on the film is available at the Talking NC website.