Monday, June 5, 2023

Majority of Langley City Survey Respondents Support Incorporating hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ into Parks and Street Names

A few weeks ago, I was one of the judges for the Langley School District’s IDEA X Challenge, where high school students had presented solutions to making “a future Langley that could exist in 50 years which is environmentally responsible, earth-conscious, incorporates Indigenous perspectives and honours what is important to today’s residents.”

Langley City itself is on a reconciliation journey which started with a motion that Council passed in the fall of 2021. You can read this motion in a previous post.

I have been meeting with Chiefs and Councillors over the past six months. One common theme I heard is that Langley City can further reconciliation in our community by acknowledging, preserving, and revitalizing Indigenous languages. While in the federal context, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action included five calls to action specifically around language.

When I saw that one of the IDEA X Challenge groups designed prototypes of bilingual hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ (hunquminum)/English street sign, it got me thinking about what we could do to celebrate hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ in Langley City.

Prototype street sign design by high school students in consultation with sesmélət (Fern Gabriel). Select the image to enlarge.

I put together a survey asking people:

  • Do you think Langley City should dual name significant streets in our community, incorporating the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language?
  • Do you think Langley City should dual name parks in our community?
  • Do you think Langley City should rename some parks in our community?

After filtering the results to Langley City residents, the majority of the remaining 123 survey respondents supported all three actions. The strongest support was for dual naming parks.

What I found interesting is that support was not even around Langley City. The majority of survey respondents north of Grade Crescent were supportive of incorporating hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ into parks names and street signs; respondents south of Grade Crescent were not. North of Grade Crescent respondents accounted for 78% of people that completed the survey, which correlates nicely with the population of Langley City, of which around 80% live north of Grade Crescent.

For example, 63% of survey respondents in the Blacklock Neighbourhood supported dual naming streets and parks. 58% supported renaming parks.

Now, I am happy that the majority of people who completed the survey are supportive. However, regardless of survey results, Langley City still must move forward on reconciliation and acknowledging, preserving, and revitalizing hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓.

One of the pieces of feedback I heard was to include a pronunciation guide for places with hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ names. I think that would help revitalize hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ in Langley City.

I look forward to continuing the journey of reconciliation in Langley City.

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