We are the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, “People of the Inlet.” According to archaeological evidence and our oral history, Tsleil-Waututh people have lived in this traditional territory for thousands of years.
Burrard Inlet sustains us with food, a place to live, spectacular natural beauty. Our ancestors travelled throughout the territory, keeping villages in different locations to live wherever seasonal resources were plentiful. Our lands and waters have shaped our culture and will be central to our way of life for generations to come.
We will continue to put the face of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation back on our traditional territory, build capacity within our community, and participate on all levels―social, ecological, cultural, economic―in decision making within our lands.
We welcome you to learn more about us.
ʔi ct kʷən̓et k̓ʷə xʷəlməxʷaʔɬ štəhi:m ʔiʔ həli ct wə niʔ ʔəw taʔəltal̓xʷ ƛ̓ syəw̓en̓əɬ ct
To maintain our identity as Tsleil-Wautt people, respecting our past and being mindful of our future, sharing a collective vision for a healthy, holistic community in harmony with our surroundings; guided by our spiritual, emotional, mental and physical teachings, thriving in our cultural excellence.
The mission of the Tsleil-Waututh Chief and Council is to provide strong leadership, guidance and support for the greater good of our nation.
“When the tide went out, the table was set.”
The heart of our community is now centred on Burrard Inlet, between Maplewood Flats and Deep Cove in North Vancouver. But traditional use studies and archaeological evidence show our ancestors occupied a vast area, about 1,865 square kilometres (190,000 hectares). Our traditional territory encompasses wilderness watersheds northwards to Mount Garibaldi, Coquitlam Lake in the east, and Howe Sound to the west.
This territory was a land of plenty, with abundant fish and game to sustain the Tsleil-Waututh and our neighbours, other First Nations we partnered with through marriage or protocol. We shared resources to provide for all and maintain the area’s abundance.
We never ceded or relinquished our responsibility for this territory. But its resources have been exploited and damaged through industrialization and urbanization. Our nation holds Aboriginal title over what is now a highly urbanized area, which we share with many private and public interests. Our land claim under the treaty process is complex for this reason; nevertheless, we:
- Seek a treaty that prescribes Tsleil-Waututh inclusion in all decisions involving our traditional territory
- Assert our constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights over our traditional territory
Our birthright and obligation as Tsleil-Waututh people is to care for the lands and waters of our territory to ensure future generations can thrive here.
Culture & Language
“We want our community members to thrive in our culture and traditions, even as we live in an ever-changing modern world, because this keeps us grounded to our values and who we are as Tsleil-Wautt people. Our aspiration is to see our children and grandchildren grow up healthy and happy, so life becomes a journey they travel without the struggles our ancestors had to deal with.”
TWN Chief Maureen Thomas
We listen to our Elders—they are the knowledge keepers of our history—and sustain connections between our youth and Elders to keep our TWN culture alive.
We have incorporated traditional education, language, and culture into our childcare, in response to what our community, leadership, and parents requested, to raise awareness from an early age. We have traditional art, drumming, singing and field trips in the Aboriginal Head Start Program, plus opportunities for Elders and children to interact.
Our Tsleil-Waututh Language Program is helping to revitalize our Hunq’eme’nem language and has been recognized as a best practice by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. With no living fluent speakers, we used remaining records, documentation, and linguistic resources for the Downriver Hunq’eme’nem/Hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓, while also requesting assistance from Vancouver Island speakers (who call the language Həl̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ rather than Hunq’eme’nem).
We are using cutting-edge language learning techniques to attain our short-term goal of five fluent, proficient second-language speakers. To date, we have:
- Three community members who are mid to high-level conversant speakers
- Four language interns who are beginning to mid-level conversant speakers
We are confident, based on progress so far, of attaining our longer-term goal to raise a generation of first-language speakers. We’ve introduced language classes in our childcare, sharing basic words and phrases with all 35 children, in staff/community language classes, and in language immersion camps.
We are the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, the People of the Inlet. We have lived in and along our inlet since time out of mind. We have been here since the Creator transformed the Wolf into that first Tsleil-Wautt, and made the Wolf responsible for this land.
We have always been here and we will always be here. Our people are here to care for our land and water. It is our obligation and birthright To be the caretakers and protectors of our Inlet.
Our people descended from powerful hereditary leaders, Waut-salk and Sla-holt. We know where we come from and we know who we are. We respect our heritage and nothing can change our history and our truth.
Our people traveled far and wide on our traditional territory. They paddled our waters and climbed our mountains. They understood the richness that our traditional territory held. And in understanding this, they knew our land. Our ancestors were responsible for the rivers, streams, beaches, and forests of our traditional territory. Our people knew our land well because it was for the benefit of everyone.
Our Tsleil-Waututh Nation is moving into our future. Our children and our land are our future. Our future will bring enough for our children’s children to thrive. We are looking forward; we are ready to meet the next millennium.
Therefore, be it known far and wide that our Tsleil-Waututh Nation, The People of the Inlet, are responsible for and belong to our traditional territory. Let it be known that our Tsleil-Waututh Nation is a Nation unto itself, Holding traditional territory for its people.