Everyone should learn a little Hul’q’umi’num, elder tells Duncan council

Bill Ross wants to help save the ancient Hul’q’umi’num’ language from extinction.

Bill Ross wants to help save the ancient Hul’q’umi’num’ language from extinction.

Hul’q’umi’num’ is a Coast Salish language that has been spoken by First Nations on Vancouver Island, including those in the Cowichan Valley, since long before Europeans arrived in the area.

Ross told Duncan’s city council at its meeting on Feb. 20 that he would like to see the language rejuvenated by encouraging many in the general public to use at least some Hul’q’umi’num’ phrases on a daily basis. Ross said he decided to appear before council due to his responsibilities as an Elder to the Coast Salish youth within his own family.

He said there is an app currently available for cell phones on which people can learn the language, a few words at a time.

Ross said he would suggest just four expressions to begin with; “thank you”, “you’re welcome”, “good morning” and “good day”.

He said the app has 12 additional Hul’q’umi’num’ words to choose from.

“Linguists often call for the whole community to get involved in these types of initiatives by using the language on a day-to-day basis,” Ross said. “Imagine using the very first words of the very first language of the first people of this land. This could bring national attention to the area and shine a spotlight on Duncan.”

Ross said he’d like to have the city sponsor an event in which a selected group of experts from Vancouver Island University would meet with leaders from a cross section of the community to consider different strategies to save Hul’q’umi’num’.

“I have not mentioned any calls to actions, nor will I,” Ross said.

“This is for council to decide as one government to another. What I’m talking about is the people of Duncan interacting with people [who speak Hul’q’umi’num’].”

Duncan mayor Phil Kent said council is considering what, if anything, it is prepared to do to assist Ross in his project.

He said a number of council members are already engaged in individual projects regarding First Nations, and some involve the preservation of the Hul’q’umi’num’ language.

“We also use phrases from the language in the city’s official ceremonies, and I’ve learned a few phrases myself,” Kent said.

“The local school district also has programs and courses on First Nations and the Hul’q’umi’num’ language. We’re currently digesting the information that was provided us in the presentation to determine if we have a role here.”

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

Just Posted

Cowichan Valley Capitals defenceman Logan Rands pokes the puck away from Alberni Valley Bulldogs forward Talon Duff. (Elena Rardon/Black Press Media)
Offence sags as Cowichan Capitals reach midway mark

Caps score one goal in three games as pod season continues

BCYP Minister for the Southern Interior, Aislinn Dressler of Fernie said the Youth Parliament being virtual was a great way to learn about how the BC Parliament was operating. (Photo contributed by Aislinn Dressler)
Applications open for Islands Youth Parliament

Applications must be received by April 23

Someone used this counterfeit $50 to pay for items at the Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store in downtown Duncan in April 2021. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Duncan businesses warned of counterfeit cash

Fake $50 passed at Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store

Martin Drakeley, North Cowichan’s manager of fire and bylaw services, says the municipality’s fire halls have responded to more fires than usual this spring. (File photo)
Dry weather, wind leads to more brushfires this spring in North Cowichan

‘Be safe. Be fire smart. Be situationally aware.’

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
An Island girl’s wish is answered as her cat came back

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus is putting a 41-passenger electric bus through its paces in a three-month trial run between Nanaimo and Victoria. (Photo submitted)
Electric bus on trial run serving Victoria-to-Nanaimo route

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus trying out 41-seat electric coach for three months

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

Most Read