Since its beta release in September 2019, The Great Niagara Escarpment Indigenous Cultural Map has emerged as a valuable online reference for information about Indigenous historic, cultural, and ecosystemic sites within and related to the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere. With more sites being continually identified and added each year, ensuring consistency of the map’s content becomes paramount. So too does the need to develop reference points that set the standards for style to provide that information featured at each map destination has the same appearance. When it comes to content, consistency is essential.
The Plenty Canada Style Guide identifies and documents how the organization intends to convey information on the Indigenous Cultural Map and, by extension, throughout its communications platforms. It is a practical and applied resource representing the organization’s commitment to formalizing intentional content. Consistency of grammar, punctuation, usage of terms, and formatting contribute to establishing the quality of content while making communications work for staff members more accessible and efficient. Cultural mapping is a land-based learning concept, and process, intended to identify, describe, and portray tangible and intangible cultural and language resources and assets, including those of distinct populations, within select landscapes.
Within the context of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere, Plenty Canada works with Indigenous peoples who are interested in the Niagara Escarpment to help return Indigenous voice, knowledge, and stories to this 400-million-year-old geologic feature upon which Indigenous peoples have been active for thousands of years. With its network of Indigenous knowledge keepers, Plenty Canada seeks to document, celebrate, and safeguard crucial Indigenous heritage resources on and along the Niagara Escarpment.
This project, funded by Canadian Heritage Indigenous Languages Initiative, has created a holistic set of standards for the Map’s web content to ensure content meets a high level of editorial consistency. This guide serves as a reference source for all information presentation decisions, code standards, and Indigenous language terms used for the platform. This is critical as many researchers and Indigenous cultural experts continue to provide content for the site. It will help Plenty Canada maintain a consistent vision across all content management fields, pages, and components. With many people working on this complex project entering many iterations and changes, everyone must use the same stylistic standards and Indigenous language terms so that the result is cohesive.
Within the Map’s Content Management System are numerous fields into which information is uploaded. Technically, the Indigenous Cultural Map can feature an unlimited number of destinations. However, each field is populated with content as additional destinations are added. Depending on who adds that content, the applied styles may vary widely. This ranges from the usage of terms, punctuation, and spellings of Indigenous locations to summary information and detailed descriptions of identified historic and cultural sites, to photographic captions and video titles, quotes from Indigenous elders and scholars, to lists of reference materials. As a result, the development of this, The Great Niagara Escarpment Indigenous Cultural Map Editorial Style Guide, is essential to ensuring consistency of standards that assist content developers and digital specialists who become responsible for managing the platform. This Style Guide provides guidelines for content presentation, including hundreds of spellings and usage terms involving the languages represented in the Indigenous Cultural Map (English, Kanien’kéha, Anishinaabemowin, and Michif).
— Amanda Harwood