Our Living Languages

First Peoples’ Voices in British Columbia

In partnership with:


June 21, 2014 to June 2017

In April 2015, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) announced that the Royal BC Museum won the 27th Annual AAM Excellence in Exhibition Competition for the feature exhibition Our Living Languages: First Peoples’ Voices in British Columbia. The exhibition was one of only four entries – from 37 submitted by some of the world’s most innovative and progressive museums – to receive this annual award.

This groundbreaking, interactive exhibition celebrates the resilience and diversity of First Nations languages in BC in the face of change. Learn what First Nations communities throughout the province are doing to help their languages survive and flourish, in this beautifully designed exhibition space, featuring original First Nations artwork and interactive stations.

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 our First Nations languages, of which 34 are spoken here.

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 “language” through a different lens.

Visitors to the exhibition will come to a new realization about the importance of language diversity and the renewed future for First Nations languages.  Our Living Languages is located on the Royal BC Museum’s Third Floor, at the entrance to the First Peoples Gallery.



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.

Any donation you make will help. If you are interested in supporting this exhibition, please contact us at donate@royalbcmuseum.bc.ca or 250-387-7222.

Our Living Languages is generously sponsored by:


Learn more about Vancity’s involvement with Our Living Languages.