About XWCS

The xʷəlməxʷqən Cultural Society (XWCS) is dedicated to the preservation and transmission of traditional cultural knowledge and language of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ people across the generations. 

We have only recently become a formal organization, but members of our team have been working together for the past 20 years to ensure the resurgence of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language and culture. Seven years ago, language specialists from throughout various hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ territory met under the auspices of a FPCC Language Revitalization Grant, and we collectively planned future directions which included founding a society whose sole focus is language and culture. XWCS arose from those discussions.

Mission Statement

The mission of the XWCS is to create and share language and culture materials. In order to achieve this goal, we have constructed a hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ Language Revitalization Plan around four pillars: 

  • advocacy and outreach
  • teaching and language education 
  • resource development 
  • language and culture revitalization. 

Each of these four pillars play an essential role in supporting the development of a successful language program across our communities.

Our ancestors’ system of teaching and passing on knowledge was through oral stories, as well as art in many different forms. Our intentions as a society are to bring back this way of teaching, and to create stories, art, and songs focusing on land-based learning.

Our purpose is to ultimately aid the development of fluent speakers by creating language resources, offering immersion clubs, and hosting workshops to further learners’ language abilities.

Our Board

We operate under a board made up of Indigenous elders from several nations, and our projects involve researchers and learners from Katzie First Nation, Musqueam First Nation, Tsawwassen First Nation,Tsleil Waututh First Nation, and Kwikwetlem First Nation. 

Board Members

Kaitlyn Cunningham is a BA student in the Diploma Indigenous Language Proficiency at SFU. During Kaitlyn’s time working with the society, she has expanded upon her professional development through training by linguists and her hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ mentors, while creating language learning materials pertaining to the seasonal round. She has been trained in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ text transcription, sound editing, and materials development. Kaitlyn continues to create culture based learning materials including stories on the different traditional activities of our ancestors. In addition, Kaitlyn works on various projects organizing language legacy materials for future generations to access.

Abigail Cunningham is an MA student in the Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Languages and Linguistics and has been trained in online game development. During Abigail’s time working with the society, she has expanded upon her professional development through training by linguists and computer technician’s to build digital interactive learning workbooks from their inception to their delivery. Abigail is currently utilizing language learning material that was developed by Donna Gerdts alongside hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speakers.  Additionally, Abigail has acquired a skill set for sound editing and organization of materials that have been instrumental in the ongoing development of new language resources. 

Leah Meunier has been a language instructor of the hən̓q̓əmín̓əm̓ language for 23 years, and during that time she has taught the smallest to the tallest in her community, as well as for neighbouring nations. She is currently a sessional instructor for Simon Fraser University (SFU), teaching classes for the Indigenous Language Diploma program in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓. She graduated with her Masters of Linguistics of First Nations Language in 2019, and is currently enrolled at the University of British Columbia (UBC) doing her doctoral studies in Language and Literacy. She has always actively supported the continued growth and the transmission of our cultural knowledge to our past, present and future generations in whatever capacity that is: as their teacher, as a curriculum resource developer and/or as an advocate for language incorporation into any and all programs. 





Research Team Members

Kaitlyn Cunningham

Abigail Cunningham

Julihsa George

Elena Barreiro

Janet Leonard

Donna Gerdts

Victoria Williams

Tech Team

Helen Zhang

Rosemary Webb

Chloe Farr