Our Living Languages: First Peoples' Voices in BC

The third floor has been closed for Modernization. Learn more here

In partnership with

In 2019, UNESCO’s International Year of Indigenous Languages, we invite you to learn more about the state of Indigenous languages in BC in this groundbreaking interactive exhibition.

Learn what First Nations communities throughout the province are doing to help their languages survive and flourish in this beautifully designed exhibition space that celebrates the resilience and diversity of First Nations languages in the face of change.

Language is a powerful, potent marker of identity and culture. Think about the emotional resonance of the term “mother tongue”—the languages we grow up with are our kin, nourishment and birthright. BC is one of the planet’s most linguistically diverse regions. From a global perspective, it’s known as a linguistic “hotspot” because of the diversity and vitality of the First Nations languages in BC, 34 of which are spoken in this exhibition.

Through interactive stations, original First Nations artwork, video, audio and live engagement, Our Living Languages provides visitors with the opportunity to learn more about the history of disrupted languages in BC, the complexity of these languages, and the people – and entire communities – that are working tirelessly to document and revitalize them.

Walk through the colourful “language forest” and hear a greeting in one of the 34 First Nations languages. Duck into a calming little cocoon, woven like a cradle, and listen to stories and lullabies. Marvel at the three masterpieces of contemporary First Nations artwork, each interpreting the idea of language through a different lens.

In 2015, the Royal BC Museum won the American Alliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibition Competition for Our Living Languages. The exhibition was one of only four entries—of the 37 submitted by some of the world’s most innovative and progressive museums—to receive this annual award.

How to support this important exhibition

We believe it is vital to share this exhibition with the people of British Columbia and with visitors from afar. Our Living Languages is now open, but we are still seeking financial contributions for learning programs that will create further awareness and support for this important cause.

Our Living Languages is generously sponsored by: