Language

The language of the Snuneymuxw is Island Hul'q'umin'um', a living language that expresses our worldview and way of life. Our language connects us to the wisdom and knowledge of our ancestors and infuses our People with valuable insights and understanding. 

Hul'q'umin'um' is one of the twenty-three Salishan languages of southwestern Canada and the northwestern United States. The Hul'q'umin'um' language has three principle dialects: Upriver (Stalo), spoken in the vicinity of Chilliwack, Downriver, spoken at Katzie, Musqueam, and Tsawwassen, and Island Hul'q'umin'um' which, in addition to Snuneyxmuxw, is spoken by the Nanoose, Chemainus, Penelakut, Cowichan, Halalt and Lyackson First Nations.

Maintaining fluency in our language has been challenged by systematic attacks and demands imposed by Crown policies and laws aimed at assimilation. This threat has become increasingly real as only a small number of Elders and members remain fluent. 

Our government and community are continually expanding opportunities for our youth and children to learn our language.  It is taught in our school, and as part of our ethic of life-long learning. 

Our Hul'q'umin'um' language dictionary and resources like the Vocies of Snuneymuxw project are among the ways we continue education in our language.