Kw’umut Lelum Foundation is selling Valentine’s Day cards to raise awareness about its efforts and promote the Hul’q’umi’num’ language. Pictured are Sharon Hobenshield, foundation executive director, and Kayla Seymour, cultural support worker. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

B.C. non-profit’s Valentine’s Day cards say ‘I love you’ in Indigenous language

Kw’umut Lelum Foundation emphasizes revitalization of Hul’q’umi’num

A Nanaimo-based non-profit is asking people to express their love in Hul’q’umi’num this Valentine’s day.

In an effort to revitalize and teach the region’s First Nations language and raise money and awareness about the foundation, Kw’umut Lelum Foundation is selling Valentine’s cards and e-cards.

Cards feature artwork by Benson Nelson, a Snaw-Naw-As and Nuxalk Nation youth, and the word nu stl’i’ ch, which means ‘I love you.’ The foundation is also promoting other Valentine’s-related words, ‘iyus mulintu skweyul (happy couples day or Valentine’s day), nan ch’ uw’ nu stl ’i’ siem (you are important to me) and tl’i’stamu tsun (I hold you dearly), as part of the campaign.

Sharon Hobenshield, executive director, credits the foundation’s communications team for conceiving the idea, as it had discussed a visual way to invite people to promote the foundation and emphasize revitalization of the language.

“In truth and reconciliation, it’s recognizing … that there is a distinct language of Hul’q’umi’num and that these communities are trying to revitalize it and use it and inviting people to know that it exists and to show respect by acknowledging and trying to use it in their daily language in our communications and relationships as we grow as a community,” said Hobenshield.

Some of the initiatives that will benefit from proceeds include language revitalization programs and scholarships, said Hobenshield.

Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services announced the formation of the foundation last summer, representing nine Coast Salish First Nations, including Snuneymuxw, Snaw-Naw-As and Stz’uminus, with a goal of collaborating with donors to assist Indigenous children and families.

“The foundation is all about the youths … So bringing Benson in and inviting him to do the artwork just speaks to the values and how we want to include youths going forward,” said Hobenshield.

Nelson, soon to be 11, referred to the artwork on the cards as “Mother Earth’s Heart.”

“I hope it influences a bunch of young artists that want to learn their culture,” he said.

E-cards can be purchased via the foundation’s website and physical cards can be purchased at numerous locations from Nanoose Bay to Ladysmith. For more information, visit

RELATED: Kw’umut Lelum starts Indigenous-led, owned charity

READ ALSO: SD68 school naming policy considers Indigenous language

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