Vancouver’s Langara College adds Musqueam name to all branding

Vancouver’s Langara College has updated its branding to fully incorporate a name given to it by the Musqueam people in 2016. The school is on unceded traditional territory of the Musqueam.

Meaning “house of teachings,” the new name, snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓, began appearing alongside “Langara” on all school elements—from the website and email signatures to business cards, letterhead and publications—on Monday. Hear the pronunciation below.

“It was important to for us to honour the gift of the name snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ by fully incorporating it in to our institutional identity,” said the school’s president and CEO, Lane Trotter. “This work is the next step in our continuing relationship with Musqueam, and we hope it will help Indigenous students feel even more welcome on our campus.”

The school worked with the DDB branding and design agency Twice to add the new name to all branding.

“For this to flow through into the core brand identity shows their deep commitment to doing things properly,” said Rob Newell, vice-president of brand strategy at Twice. “Langara is ahead of most Canadian brands in taking this huge step forward.”

The Musqeum language has 36 consonants, 22 of which are not found in English, so type designers Veronika Burian and José Scaglione of TypeTogether, were commissioned to create a character extension for the College’s main font, Adelle.

“Type is the visual expression of culture and information which helps to promote diversity and is therefore especially important for minority languages to keep their heritage alive,” said Burian.

The United Nations has declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages as part of ongoing efforts to raise awareness and increase appreciation for their importance. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission also included steps to preserve and revitalize Indigenous languages among its calls to action.

There are more than 5,000 different Indigenous cultures around the world according to the United Nations. The organization also notes that 2,680 languages around the world are currently in danger.

David Brown