Helping to digitize and preserve cassette tapes of Indigenous languages for future generations

Thanks to a recent investment by TD, Indigenous communities across BC helping their languages survive and thrive will soon be able to access digital content through a preservation project at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria.

TD announced a $50,000 investment to support the First Nations Language Revitalization Project as part of its commitment to work in partnership with Indigenous communities to support education and preserve Aboriginal arts and culture. 

"TD is extremely pleased to support the Royal BC Museum's First Nations Language Revitalization Project which will digitize and preserve many of these cassette tapes containing Indigenous languages for future generations," said Doris Bear, Vice President of Indigenous Banking, TD Bank Group. "TD is working to put its organizational commitments into action and advance together towards reconciliation with the Indigenous people of Canada. Over the past year, TD focused on a number of initiatives, both big and small, to generate understanding and engagement, and to help make change happen." 

The Royal BC Museum holds two large ethnology audio collections that hold the recorded languages and intangible culture heritage of various First Nations groups of the Pacific Coast. This collection has language vocabularies, traditional stories and potlaches spoken in Indigenous languages. 

The collections include audio recordings on approximately 2,200 cassettes, many of which are in cold storage to slow deterioration of the media. Digitization of these tapes will allow the museum to forge stronger relationships with First Nations community members by providing access to the voices of their ancestors.

Did You Know?
In Canada, there are over 60 Indigenous languages spoken; 12 different language families.  In BC alone, there are 34 Indigenous languages, yet most are spoken by fewer than 1,000 people. 

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called on corporate Canada to commit to advancing reconciliation and to lead change through education, employment and economic development initiatives. TD is committed to doing its part and this project at the museum aligns very well with the Commission's call to action to preserve the languages of the Indigenous people of Canada.