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KPU’s new grad parchments feature both English and the language spoken by Kwantlen First Nation

The hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language can already be seen in more places around KPU
Natalie Wood-Wiens (left), manager of Indigenous services at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU), and Zena Mitchell, associate vice-president of enrolment services and registrar, with an example of a hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-language parchment. (Submitted photo)

Graduates of Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) will be among the first in Canada to receive Indigenous-language parchments, or diplomas.

KPU’s new parchments feature a blend of English and hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ (pronounced HUN-kuh-MEE-num), spoken by the Kwantlen First Nation.

Starting at convocation ceremonies Feb. 13-17, all KPU graduates will receive the new parchments, which are documents issued by the university to certify program completion by students.

The hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language can already be seen in more places around KPU, including student service counters and on campus building signs, and is being added to some institutional documents.

The language is spoken by people of the Kwantlen, Katzie, Tsawwassen, Kwikwetlem and Musqueam First Nations on whose traditional unceded territories KPU is situated.

Zena Mitchell, associate vice-president of enrolment services and registrar at KPU, said the university is making “a meaningful commitment to reconciliation and recognizing the Kwantlen First Nation, whose peoples bestowed their name on our university.

“Through this initiative, we hope to honour the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language, support the work led by Indigenous language keepers to revitalize Indigenous languages, and send our graduates off in a good way.”

Fern Gabriel, a member of Kwantlen First Nation and hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language teacher with Langley School District, translated the parchment text.

• Meantime, people whose lives have been impacted by the opioid overdose crisis feature in a new podcast by a Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) communication studies researcher and faculty member.

Beginning Jan. 16, “Unsilencing Stories” offers audio interviews with 40 bereaved people in smaller communities in B.C. and Alberta.

Facilitated by Dr. Aaron Goodman and student researchers Jenna Keeble and Ashley Pocrnich, the project “provided space for people who’ve lost loved ones to drug poisoning to share stories rarely found in mainstream media,” according to a KPU news release.

“Unsilencing Stories” is available on the website unsilencingstories.comand on podcast directories including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts. The project is supported by a $60,000 KPU Chancellor’s Chair Award.

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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