UBC, Musqueam, Syilx co-develop font to typeset Salish languages

The University of British Columbia, the Musqueam Language and Culture Department, and the Syilx Okanagan Nation collaboratively created a new font capable of typesetting Salish languages. The years-long project stemmed from UBC’s need to respectfully express hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓, the traditional language of the Musqueam peoples, and nsyilxcən, the language of Syilx Okanagan language, in a written form. UBC previously used First Nations Unicode, which can accurately represent words in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and nsyilxcən, but looks different from the current institutional font Whitney. The final font, called Whitney Salishan, was developed through four years of extensive collaborative work and will be used on campus in Syilx language research and education, as well as by the Musqueam and Syilx peoples as they work to revitalize their languages. “The process of building this relationship and creating this typeface is an important part of a holistic approach to reconciliation and healing, not just for UBC, but for the entire Musqueam community and beyond,” says Larry Grant, manager of Musqueam Language and Culture Department.

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