About the Workshop

The BC Breath of Life Archival Institute for First Nations Languages provides First Nations community language workers the opportunity to participate in a week-long Institute being hosted at the University of British Columbia from May 14-20, 2017, for the reclamation and revitalization of BC First Nations languages.

Modeled on the “Breath of Life” Language Restoration Workshops initiated in the mid-90s by the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival, our objective is to promote active collaboration among people with a wide range of perspectives on language and culture to explore archives and museum collections at UBC in order to “breathe life” back into the manuscripts and other resources there, with the overarching goal of contributing to the health and sustainability of BC’s First Nations languages for future generations. Participants will be grouped into research teams, based on language affiliations, bringing together First Nations community language workers (broadly defined to include Elders, language learners, teachers, curriculum developers, and others working towards language vitality) and university-based scholars with diverse skills that can contribute to finding and interpreting materials relevant to language and culture reclamation. Team members will actively work together to study resources housed in various collections at UBC that are directly relevant to their languages. Team members will mentor one another and share their expertise throughout the program, building not only research resources, but also relationships for potential on-going collaboration.

Among the resources that participants will be exploring are the Xwi7xwa Library, the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) archives and material collections, the Reciprocal Research Network (RRN), the Oral History and Language Laboratory (OHLL), the Audrey & Harry Hawthorn Library & Archives (AHHLA), the UBC Library Rare Books and Special Collections Division (RBSC), the UBC Archives, and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre (IKBLC). Visits to the various collections and archives will be supplemented by lectures and workshops on archival research, and on how to make these research results relevant to community initiatives for language teaching and learning, curriculum development, community-based archives, and other topics of interest to members of the group.

Two internationally renowned scholars in the domain of endangered language revitalization — Leanne Hinton, co-founder of the California Breath of Life program, and Daryl Baldwin, 2016 MacArthur Fellow — will join UBC scholars from several units across campus, including the First Nations and Endangered Languages Program (FNEL); the Museum of Anthropology; the School of Library, Archival and Information Science (SLAIS); and the First Nations House of Learning (FNHL), among others.

The 2017 BC Breath of Life Archival Institute for First Nations Languages week of intensive study will culminate in each team making a presentation based on the relevance of archival or museum resources that they have found for language revitalization, teaching, learning, and/or further research. This is a great opportunity for all the participants to find and learn how to utilize archival materials as part of the reclamation, learning, and teaching of Indigenous heritage languages, in the company of other like-minded people.