Langara continues Musqueam rebrand in reconciliation effort

The college now uses the snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ name in many official displays

Langara's 'Welcome Figure', was unveiled last fall. The house post carved by Musqueam artist Brent Sparrow Jr. is part of Langara's effort towards reconciliation. Photo: Jennifer Blake
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Reported by Jennifer Blake

Langara’s inclusion of its Musqueam name, snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓, in staff emails and campus posters is the first step to setting up an environment where reconciliation can happen, said Rick Ouellet, Langara’s director of Aboriginal education and services.

Ouellet said the plan is to have snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ displayed on equal footing to Langara College.

“Now that we have the name we want, to take it seriously to create a brand where snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ is not seen as inferior to Langara. That’s the idea behind the dual branding,” Ouellet said, adding that the dual wordmark, a text-only typographic of the college name, has been appearing on staff emails for about three weeks.

“It’s really respecting that gift that we received from Musqueam.”

A gift in the form of a name

Langara was gifted the name snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ (meaning ‘house of teaching’ in Musqueam) in 2016. The college plans to include ‘snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓’ alongside the ‘Langara’ wordmark in all of its branding in the near future.

The City of Vancouver’s first ever Aboriginal relations manager, Ginger Gosnell-Myers, who stepped down in 2018, said that seeing Indigenous culture and language represented visually offers a great sense of pride for her. This acknowledgement was historically oppressed by the Canadian government.

“I think the signal to Indigenous students is at Langara, things are changing,” Gosnell-Myers said.

Gosnell-Myers said she thinks the transition feels a bit late, but that’s normal because Musqueam and the two other local First Nations in Vancouver are working through how their language needs are reflected in public spaces.

“Because there’s no clear guideline to that process of integrating the names it is going to take a little bit longer than people would’ve realized,” said Gosnell-Myers.

Care required on how it is used

Langara student Breanna Dixon said she thinks the change shows awareness, but the college should be careful about using that awareness as an advertising tool.

“It’s awesome they’ve done so much work with Musqueam people,” said Dixon. “It’s a cool statement to make to the world that we’re honouring this part of our heritage.”

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