White Rock Museum & Archives curator Charlene Garvey talks about the museum’s newest exhibit, Our Living Languages: First Peoples’ Voices in B.C. (Tracy Holmes photo)

White Rock Museum & Archives curator Charlene Garvey talks about the museum’s newest exhibit, Our Living Languages: First Peoples’ Voices in B.C. (Tracy Holmes photo)

White Rock exhibit explores diversity of First Nations languages in B.C.

Our Living Languages: First Peoples’ Voices in B.C. continues through April 28

Visitors to White Rock Museum & Archives’ newest exhibit won’t leave the building fluent in a new language, although they could pick up a word or two in another tongue while inside.

More likely, curator Charlene Garvey hopes, is that Our Living Languages: First Peoples’ Voices in B.C. inspires an appreciation for the state of Indigenous languages spoken in the province.

The exhibit, on loan from the Royal BC Museum in Victoria and opened Tuesday (Jan. 21), is an interactive look at what First Nations communities throughout B.C. are doing to help 34 distinct languages survive.

It gives people “a chance to listen to the different languages and also just to recognize how diverse this area was,” Garvey said Friday.

Developed in honour of UNESCO’s International Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019, the exhibit “celebrates the resilience and diversity of Indigenous languages in the face of change” through audio and video stations, including the ‘Cradle of language,’ where visitors can sit for a time and listen to words and song.

“When you actually sit in it, it surrounds you,” Garvey said.

In a news release, Garvey said languages, “especially the languages we grow up with, are powerful and potent markers of identity and culture.”

B.C. is one of the planet’s most linguistically diverse regions, the release – which echoes information on the Royal BC Museum website regarding the permanent exhibit of the same name – adds, describing the province as a linguistic “hotspot” for First Nations languages.

The 34 unique languages spoken among the province’s 203 First Nations communities represent 60 per cent of all First Nations languages in Canada.

Garvey, who took over the curator position at the White Rock Museum last month, said the diversity speaks to the access that the different communities had to natural resources. At the same time, it has added to the challenge of saving them all.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if some were lost,” she said.

The exhibit is the first at the museum since Garvey took over. Trained in anthropology at the University of B.C., she said her own First Nations expertise leans more towards art, including basketry and the challenge of passing down those skills. They continue to thrive in some communities, she said, noting her own studies of them took her to the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Garvey said she spent 17 years in Alberta, working with the Edmonton-based Alberta Museums Association as well as seven years with the provincial government, before returning to the Lower Mainland four years ago to be closer to her parents. She got involved with the White Rock Museum at that time as a volunteer.

Curating, Garvey said, is her “first love,” and she is looking forward to organizing her first exhibit, about the pier, which will succeed Our Living Languages.

READ MORE: VIDEO: White Rock pier destroyed by storm, stranded man rescued

“I’m really excited to be rolling up my sleeves,” she said.

Our Living Languages continues at the museum through April 28. An opening reception is planned for Jan. 29.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

First NationsMuseumRoyal BC Museum

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dyllan Petrin is charged related to an ongoing investigation in Surrey involving a kidnapping and assault that occurred in July, 2019. (Photo: Surrey RCMP)
Man arrested in connection to kidnapping, murder investigations: Surrey RCMP

Police say Dyllan Petrin was arrested in Vancouver

Chief Constable Norm Lipinski, Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey chief constable says ‘comprehensive’ public engagement to be done this year

Norm Lipinski says Surrey Police Service has ‘good momentum’

Surrey-raised forward Jujhar Khaira in action with Edmonton Oilers. (Photo: nhl.com)
Q&A: Surrey’s Jujhar Khaira credits parents for their hard work on his path to NHL

Port Kells-raised player talks about his journey to pro hockey with Edmonton Oilers

The interventional oncology team at Surrey Memorial Hospital. The Surrey Hospitals Foundation has invested in innovative technologies to kickstart a new Interventional Oncology service at Surrey Memorial Hospital. (Submitted photo: Yvonne Chiang)
Surrey Memorial home to machines for ‘minimally invasive’ cancerous tumours treatments

Technology can freeze, burn tumours without need for surgery

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Most Read