Helq’eméylem Language Card Deck launches to support Indigenous language revitalization efforts

Designed by Coast Salish artist Ovila Mailhot

DEROCHE, BC (August 6th, 2020) — TakingITGlobal is grateful for the opportunity to support the Helq’eméylem Animal Card Deck in collaboration with Ovila Mailhot, Leq’á:mel First Nation and the Helq’eméylem Language Group.

This educational tool, designed by Ovila Mailhot, showcases Coast Salish art and local animals while introducing key vocabulary in an effort to celebrate and revitalize Helq’eméylem language for future generations. On July 23, we hosted a virtual launch event where people from across the country joined for a reading with the authors, language keepers, family and friends.

“The significance of these cards for our community is that it will help promote language learning in a fun way. The designs are beautiful and we can use the cards for numerous activities. If we get clothing items with the designs and Helq’eméylem words, it may promote others to learn more. Since, our language is on the endangered list of languages, new resources such as these cards are great to have in the community and in the schools.

Our language has only been in written form since 1970, at that time there were 30–40 fluent speakers of the language; today, we only have one Elder that is a fluent speaker of Helq’emeylem, she’s 80 years old and she’s the last person born speaking our language. She’s the last fluent speaker in all of Stó:lō Nation which includes 24 First Nation Bands. We need resources to help preserve and promote language learning to keep it alive and give it breath.”

Camielle Laslo

“Our team at TakingITGlobal appreciates how art and visual stories help to bring excitement to learning resources. We’re pleased to partner with Ovi and community members including language keepers in this contribution to Helq’eméylem language revitalization efforts. Students from the Connected North network will have the opportunity to be inspired by this resource during the upcoming school year.”

Jennifer Corriero, Executive Director, TakingITGlobal

Special thanks and recognition to all of those involved in the project: Ovila Mailhot (artist and card designer), Bibiana Norris & Camielle Laslo (language teachers/speakers), Phil Sherwood (drummer), Takaya Kelly (welcome address), Chris Green (caterer) and Magdalena Kelly for emceeing and event coordination.

To order a copy of the card deck visit Art for Communities.


Jayson Moore, Educator Engagement & School Support Coordinator, TakingITGlobal (E-mail jayson@takingitglobal.org)

(416) 977–9363 ext 323

Artist Contact

Instagram @Ovila79



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