Open Sans – First Peoples of British Columbia

British Columbia is home to 60% of First Nations languages in Canada with 34 unique languages ( Report on the Status of B.C. First Nations Languages 2014, Second Edition, Fact Sheet – PDF ).

This is an Open Sans variant to add coverage for all the orthographies of the languages of the First Peoples of British Columbia.


The primary impetus for this work was to provide correct representation of hən̓q̓əmin̓əm words that would be required for Vancouver Public Library's website. Use of First Nation language began with the naming of the nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona Branch. The requirement would only continue to grow. Budget and licensing issues prevented VPL from using the brand font, so I extended Open Sans to provide this coverage and made Web OpenType Font Files (.woff) hosted on the server.

The secondary, but no less important goal, is to complete and test the expanded fonts and submit to Google Fonts for reintegration into Open Sans.

Language Coverage

The fonts provide qualified coverage for Hul’q’umi’num’ / Halq'eméylem / hən̓q̓əmin̓əm, as well as International Phonetic Alphabet, in addition to the coverage of normally provided by Open Sans.

Qualified coverage means that some weights are complete and others are not yet, but have sufficient coverage for use in

The following weights provide coverage for Hul’q’umi’num’ / Halq'eméylem / hən̓q̓əmin̓əm:

These are the crucial letter and diacritical combinations that must be present to render hən̓q̓əmin̓əm


The following weights provide only partial coverage for Hul’q’umi’num’ / Halq'eméylem / hən̓q̓əmin̓əm:

Extending the Fonts

Glyphs and letters that can be used to represent most of the First Nations languages in BC are members of the International Phonetic Alphabet Unicode range. Diacritical marks (including combining marks such as combining comma above) are part of the Unicode Combining Mark range. This shows an overview of the glyphs and characters underway in the Open Sans FPBC Bold font in the Glyphs font editor.


Many glyphs can be assembled from existing letters, such as schwa (an 'e' rotated 180˚, then adjusted for side bearing width and baseline overshoot). Others need constructing by combining component parts such as the rfishhookmiddletilde which is assembled from two components.


Some glyphs in IPA require extra curls and elements not found in the existing font and must be added as shown in this example of the tccurl digraph


You can see the fonts active and in use on and find the project on GitHub where you can download the compiled fonts and the Glyph source files.