'Cards for All' valentines showcase love inclusively

"You are my preferred pronoun" and "To a very special gal from a very lucky lady" are both lines on a new, inclusive collection of Valentine's cards available in certain London Drugs locations across Western Canada.

Illustrated notes designed by diverse group of Canadian artists

Illustrator Mustaali Raj holding the card he designed, which translates to 'The one who stole my heart' in Punjabi. (Supplied by Mustaali Raj)

The expression of love takes many forms, and a new Valentine's Day card collection sold by London Drugs across Western Canada aims to illustrate that by offering an inclusive line of the sweet love notes. The collection is called Cards for All. 

"You are my preferred pronoun" reads one card.

"I love that we can borrow each other's clothes," says another, targeted at roommates.

Wade Janzen from Vancouver designed the concept for the card pictured above. (Supplied by London Drugs)

There are cards written in Farsi, Chinese and Braille; cards for all expressions of platonic relationships — such as roommates, co-workers and single friends — and cards for the many iterations of romantic relationships. 

The 31-card collection features designs by Canadian illustrators commissioned by London Drugs, which is selling the cards at 20 Western Canada store locations.

The cards retail for $5 a piece. That money will go toward United Way operations working to make communities more inclusive.

"[The cards are] for communities that aren't typically represented in the greeting card aisle," said Yvette Biggs with the United Way. 

Calgary illustrator James Mackenzie designed this card for the introverts of the world. (Supplied by London Drugs)

One contributor to the 31-card collection is Calgary artist James Mackenzie. He designed a cheeky card for introverts that reads, "Let's hide from the world together" 

Another contributor is visual artist Mustaali Raj, who grew up in Calgary and now lives in Vancouver.

His card is more simplistic in execution compared to some, but it has a layered meaning. It features a line from a famous Punjabi song written in two scripts that translates to mean, "The one who stole my heart."

"I wanted to look into the subtleties of Punjabi as a language," said Raj.

Mustaali Raj designed the card on the left, which translates as 'The one who stole my heart' in Punjabi. (Supplied by London Drugs)

"Punjabi language phonetically is similar but it's actually written in two different scripts depending on which part of the border you are on.… I wanted to make [the card] more inclusive and create a typographic treatment that attempted to integrate the two scripts together similar to the rhythm of [their] sound."

Raj describes making this card as a "little step" that makes a big difference in the conversation of inclusivity.

"It gave me an opportunity to reflect another aspect of the cultural diversity of Canada, disrupting the usual narrative we see when we go to pick out Valentine's cards or any cards, for that matter."

Ontario illustrator Cristian Fowlie also designed a valentine for the collection.

The text on his card reads: "What has two thumbs and the best boyfriend ever? This guy."

He agreed to the project not only because he liked the idea but because he says the project gives gave back to the community it was trying to represent through its charity tie.

"There's no reason why everyone shouldn't be able to see themselves on these cards and be able to share them with different people," said Fowlie. 

The Cards for All collection is part of a pilot project by London Drugs, says Ben Pullein, who is with the company.

"Love is love, and you want to make sure there is representation for everybody," said Pullein.

Calgarians can see the collection at the London Drugs locations in Brentwood Village Mall and Mount Royal Village.

With files from Angela Knight


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