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Ucluelet unveils new bilingual Nuu-chah-nulth / English street signs

“Our bilingu̓al street sign project is a small way we can honour the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ people”
Jeneva Touchie points to a new bilingual Nuu-chah-nulth / English street sign across from the high school. The District of Ucluelet hosted a small gathering on July 29 to unveil the new bilingual sign, which will be one of many installed around town over the next few months. (Nora O’Malley photo)

On July 29 at the corner of Otter Street and Peninsula Road, the District of Ucluelet mayor and council unveiled the district’s new bilingual Nuu-chah-nulth / English street signs.

“Ucluelet is pleased to take this small step on the path to reconciliation by updating public signage to include the West Barkley dialect of Nuučaan̓uɫ - an opportunity to celebrate and preserve the language,” reads a press statement from the municipality.

“Within the District of Ucluelet are neighbouring and interwoven communities located on the traditional territory (ḥaaḥuułi) of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (Ucluelet First Nation). The District’s long-standing relationship with the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ is built upon mutual respect and many individual, personal ties.”

Ucluelet’s mayor Mayco Noël says the district is grateful to have had the opportunity to work closely with Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ language keepers.

“We want to thank them for their contributions to making this project possible- Jeneva Touchie, Bob Mundy, Adam Werle, and the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Government,” said Noël. “Our bilingu̓al street sign project is a small way we can honour the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ people and their traditional language. ƛeekoo, Čuu.”

This project brings to life the municipality’s vision of honouring and strengthening their relationship with the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ people and neighbouring Indigenous communities. The district’s bilingual signage project aims to signify the importance of the Nuu-chah-nulth language of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ and its connection to Ucluelet, according to the district.

“Not all Nuu-chah-nulth words translate to English words. Only nouns that are familiar to who we are and where we live can be translated. It is really great to see our language live within Ucluelet, our traditional territory. It feels like home. It has been an honour to work with one of our Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ elders and language keepers, Bob Mundy, who is a fluent Nuu-chah-nulth speaker,” said Jeneva Touchie.

Roughly half of the existing street names in Ucluelet are nouns and are planned to be updated with the new bilingual signage.

“This project will help ensure the signs are available in the language these words have been spoken in for millennia, allowing local residents, school children, Indigenous community members, and visitors to the town the opportunity to tangibly interact with and celebrate the first language of Ucluelet,” notes the District of Ucluelet.

The bilingual street sign project began in late 2019, and by the end of 2022 all street names that are translatable to the Nuu-chah-nulth language will be installed in the District of Ucluelet.

READ MORE: Ucluelet First Nation opens ‘Mini Big House’