“We make sure TWN has a place at the decision-making table for any project that affects our nation.”
Our purpose is protecting our nation’s land and resources and ensuring the Tsleil-Waututh Nation voice is always heard. We investigate archaeological sites on our reserve; assess referrals in our territory; build mutually beneficial partnerships with other First Nations, governments, and the private sector; and facilitate treaty negotiations.
Archaeology & Cultural Heritage
səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) people have occupied our traditional lands since time immemorial. Remnants of our ancestors’ way of life are left behind, scattering the landscape in the form of artifacts, cultural use areas, habitation sites, hunting and gathering locations, and sacred spaces. Many of our traditional villages are located along the shores of Burrard Inlet, the body of water traditionally known as səlilwət. Tsleil-Waututh carry our culture forward by continuing to use these places today.
We steward our cultural heritage through the Archaeology & Cultural Heritage program, where we advocate for the management and protection of archaeological and cultural heritage resources within Tsleil-Waututh territory. Tsleil-Waututh Archaeology Field Technicians are Stewards, and participate on all archaeology projects within the territory. Additionally, we are currently developing cultural heritage policies to assist us in the management of cultural heritage resources.
Tsleil-Waututh are leaders in combining traditional Indigenous science with western science on exploratory archaeology projects. This includes combining generations of traditional knowledge and observations with western data collection and laboratory techniques to answer questions about Tsleil-Waututh history. Tsleil-Waututh has completed several archaeology research projects within our territory.
Consultation & Accommodation
We coordinate protocols for all referrals inside our territory―between 400 and 500 a year—stemming from the duty to consult and accommodate. We examine referrals from environmental, social and archaeological stewardship perspectives, and use this data to make recommendations on whether or not to support the referrals (as governed by our TWN Stewardship Policy).
These referrals include development assessments, provincial or federal environmental assessments, cultural heritage projects, planning processes, and relationship agreements, such as the Woodfibre LNG environmental assessment and George Massey Tunnel replacement project. Other referral files can be applications as small as a park bench or a footrace.
Our research enables us to make recommendations on how to reduce negative environmental, heritage and social impacts on projects. And we work with TWN’s Economic Development Department to ensure the costs and benefits of potential projects are in the best interests of our nation. Ultimately, our job is to help protect and assert Tsleil-Waututh interests, rights, and title.
Land, Water & Environment
Our biologists, environmental scientists and field technicians work to protect, monitor and restore Tsleil-Waututh lands and waters. The goals driving our program are to:
- Restore the health of Burrard Inlet
- Ensure Tsleil-Waututh people can practice cultural and ceremonial activities in clean water
- Re-establish traditional harvests of wild marine foods from Burrard Inlet
To achieve these goals, we:
- Complete annual fish habitat restoration projects in the Indian River watershed, with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (every year since 2012)
- Co-led a restoration project at the Lynn Creek estuary with the BC Institute of Technology, and are collaborating with several partners to restore fish passage in the Seymour River
- Work on a large restoration project at Maplewood Mudflats and McCartney Creek, and are making progress in re-establishing a small bivalve shellfish harvest in Indian Arm
- Manage Tsleil-Waututh fisheries licenses for the Food Fish program, and conduct annual assessments of Indian River salmon populations
- Work with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations on management issues of the Indian River elk herd, and manage the annual Tsleil-Waututh elk allocation and hunting process
Our team is developing a collaborative oversight body for environmental stewardship in Burrard Inlet—the Burrard Inlet Stewardship Council—which will:
- Be a First Nation-led initiative, inviting partners from various levels of government, environmental organizations, and academic institutions to participate
- Implement the recently released Tsleil-Waututh Nation Burrard Inlet Action Plan in a collaborative way
Relationships & Protocols
All of our team leads help build relationships so potential partners gain an understanding of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. We ensure TWN has a place at the decision-making table for any plan or project that affects our nation.
Our Relationships and Protocol Coordinator is expanding our relationships with other First Nations, all levels of government, and various organizations, so we work collaboratively on advancing shared interests and values.
We celebrate our connections to the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, First Nations Summit, Coast Salish Gathering, and BC Assembly of First Nations, and look forward to seeing this list grow as we continue to engage.
Negotiations & Reconciliation
We have been in stage four of the six-stage treaty negotiation process for almost 20 years, and continue to meet with the provincial and federal governments. Currently, we are waiting for sign off on the Chief Negotiators Table; then we’ll engage with the TWN community so our members have an opportunity to learn and ask questions about the process.
Governance & Community Support
We also handle a variety of community activities such as:
- TWN Community Food Fish Program: We manage TWN food fish licenses, fishing, reporting, processing, and distributing food fish to the community. We try to provide a wide variety of species in addition to sockeye salmon and have a similar program in place for wild Indian River elk meat.
- Annual TWN Community Canoe Races at Whey-ah-Wichen/Cates Park: We are a major contributor to the annual canoe races, and help with planning, permitting and organizing. We are also the conduit with the District of North Vancouver for TWN events, under our co-management agreement for Whey-ah-Wichen/Cates Park.
Sacred Trust Initiative
The Sacred Trust is an initiative of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation mandated to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project. Visit the Sacred Trust website here.
“When our lands, rivers, lakes, and the Salish Sea are healthy, our people are healthy.”
Tsleil-Waututh people have always assumed the role of caretakers of our traditional territory. These lands and waters have sustained us since time out of mind; our sacred trust is to care for and restore the environment we rely on. Our people have a deep understanding of what the health of our environment means to the lives of our community members. The principles guiding our approach to stewardship are based on teachings passed on by our Elders, our relationship to the land, and our Aboriginal rights and title.
We use our Tsleil-Waututh Nation Stewardship Policy to evaluate projects for the land, water, and resources in the Tsleil-Waututh consultation area. If you hold interests, granted by other governments, or plans for a project in this area, we wish to talk with you about how those interests can best serve your needs and those of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.
We use the vast traditional knowledge accumulated over thousands of years of inhabiting our territory to fulfil our obligation to our lands, waters, and resources. We also seek to supplement Tsleil-Waututh knowledge—with creative tools, non-traditional approaches, scientific skills, and expertise—to achieve a more holistic approach to natural resource stewardship.
We have developed a TWN Burrard Inlet Action Plan, a science-based, First Nations-led initiative to improve the health of the Burrard Inlet ecosystem by 2025. You can read the full plan or a summary here: