We are island nations, salt water people. Our villages from the beginning of time have been strategically located along the seashore, allowing us to enjoy the gifts of the Salish Sea. Our intimate relationship with the water could not have been realized without the help of the sacred canoe. Cedar is our esteemed relative. Through ceremony and prayer, the cedar tree is transformed into sea-going vessels and into our racing canoes. The life energy of the cedar endures in the canoe, and by respecting the canoe, we honor our natural world.
We Coast Salish People have always gathered to celebrate our culture. In the winter, we gather in our longhouses, and in the summer, we gather at the canoe races. Training for these races is an authentic learning experience that emphasizes respect, humility, and interdependence. Throughout the summer months, the canoe connects our communities from the youngest to the oldest and anchors us in our language and culture.
The Hul’q’umi’num’ language is very different from English, and so it might be challenging to get going in it, especially at first. But, just as it is with canoe pulling, practicing every day builds a strong mind. Learning our language requires motivation, endurance, perseverance, and much effort. But once you have mastered the basics, then the language starts to unfold and a door opens to the world of the Coast Salish way of being.
Our Elders have expressed great concern that the Hul’q’umi’num’ language is being lost. They call on you to give your best effort to keep our language and culture alive. They offer you instruction, encouragement, and help. They reach out to you with this new canoe, a website, to bring the language to your ears and heart. They are ready to listen when you are ready to speak Hul’q’umi’num’. They hope that you will enjoy speaking to each other in this language they treasure.
This canoe was put in the water by our dedicated team of language speakers, teachers, and researchers, young and old. We are learners ourselves, and we hope to be of service to the paddling community, our friends, and our families. Please work along with us, join our team by sharing knowledge and making suggestions. Help get the communication going by liking our Facebook group hwulmuhwqun on the right/below.
hay tseep q’u.