A new interactive map has been created by gathering art, language and heritage from all First Nations across British Columbia for the public to use and learn from.
The First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC) launched the First Peoples' Map — the very first interactive map in the country highlighting information about the diverse and living Indigenous languages, art and rich cultures in B.C. — on Tuesday.
“Right now, there’s no map like it in Canada,” says Hannah Mashon, communications officer with FPCC.
The “living” map allows it to be updated constantly; it weaves together content from community experts "who are deeply invested in the work of Indigenous linguistic, artistic and cultural survival," notes a press release from the organization.
Cathi Charles Wherry, an Elder and member of the Rama Mnjikaning First Nation who lives in W̱SÁNEĆ, says the map allows people to explore rich content that they would have never really had access to before.
“There has been a lot of collaboration in the development of the platform that the communities are now using to create content that they want to share with the world,” says Wherry.
All of the content is created by communities. There's information about the 34 First Nations languages spoke across the province; you can also hear greetings and pronunciations of place names and find local art, landmarks and cultural centres.
“I feel like there is a real thirst right now for people to want to learn about their Indigenous neighbours and to learn about the history of the communities around them,” says Mashon.
BC Wildfire Service will also use the map as a tool when responding to wildfires.
“When we do have a report of a fire and we are sending our initial report crews, things are moving really quickly and so this is just a really handy tool to have on hand to pull up that heritage, points of interest and see what is in the area,” Forrest Tower with BC Wildfire Service tells Glacier Media.
The map's launch is timed with National Indigenous History Month (June) and right before National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.
“Now is the best time to really celebrate and honour Indigenous knowledge keepers, Elders, and artists, and cultural heritage experts,” says Mashon. “I know a lot of people right now are focused on reconciliation and this is a really helpful tool for people to start that journey.”