Celebrating International Mother Language Day in Surrey

Mon, Feb 15, 2016

Surrey, B.C. – This Saturday, speaking in tongues will be a good thing.

To honour the UNESCO-designated International Mother Language Day observed annually on Feb. 21, the Department of Language and Cultures at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) is hosting an event that will celebrate all mother tongues, and the contribution they collectively make to the richness and diversity of the Lower Mainland.

“This event commemorates the important role language plays in our lives and communities,” said Päivi Koskinen, a KPU linguistics faculty member. “In past years, many Lower Mainland community groups have recognized International Mother Language Day as an opportunity to promote individual languages. Few events have focused on the linguistic diversity of the area by celebrating all mother tongues collectively.”

Held from 2-5 p.m. on Feb. 20, the festivities will bring together speakers who represent the wide variety of languages spoken in KPU's Richmond and Surrey communities at Bear Creek Pavilion.

A blessing by KPU’s Elder-in-Residence will be followed by presentations, performances and visual displays of local indigenous and heritage languages, including Hul’q’umi’num’, Cree, Punjabi, Cantonese and Tagalog. Guests will also have the opportunity visit the “Lingua Aqua”, a public art piece erected in Bear Creek Park in 2009 as a tribute to both the multiplicity and commonality of language across cultures.

KPU’s Department of Language and Cultures is also bringing the Canadian Language Museum’s exhibit “Cree: the People’s Language” to KPU for a two-week showcase Feb. 15-26, the first time the exhibit will be on display in British Columbia.

“The goal is to help raise awareness about indigenous languages and culture in the province. Cree is the most widely spoken indigenous language in Canada, with communities of speakers stretching from coast to coast,” said Dr. Heather Bliss, member of the Canadian Language Museum’s board of directors.

The event is free, open to the public and an assortment of refreshments will be provided. More information is available here

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has served the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 200,000 learners. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs in business, liberal arts, design, health, science and horticulture, trades and technology, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 120 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates, citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at kpu.ca.    

Media contact:
Hayley Woodin
Media Specialist
t: 604.599.2883
c: 604.364.1288

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