We recognize education plays a significant role in our members’ health and wellness and can provide options to enhance members and families’ lives. So our overarching aim is for all Tsleil-Waututh Nation members to be able to set and achieve their educational goals; that’s why we promote lifelong learning.
Our certified school is open to members and non-members to register. We focus on educating students at an early age about opportunities within TWN—such as nursing, community planning, accounting and more—and instill the importance of all learning—academic, trades and traditions—early in life.
We integrate cultural teachings into TWN’s modern education system. We promote opportunities for parents to participate in school and extracurricular activities.
We hold an annual graduation event to honour our graduates. And we help our students with planning for the transition to and applying for post-secondary education.
We also provide transitional support for children moving from preschool to kindergarten and from elementary to high school, so students can succeed at the next level of education. We offer tutoring and after-school programs in elementary and high school. And our therapist works with students with special needs; we provide case management for each student, which has a huge impact on their educational success.
We also run an Adult Aboriginal Education Program—in partnership with the Native Education College—for community members to complete their Grade 12 Dogwood Diploma.
TWN’s Education Vision: “Tsleil-Waututh Nation peoples are committed through education to maintain and enhance our cultural and traditional values. We seek to attain a balance in the intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of each individual. We are bound together in a common goal to achieve self-esteem for each individual and self-determination for the community.”
Employment & Training
People need employable skills to find gainful employment. We provide practical skills training; our program offerings depend on job market trends, interest and funding.
Child & Family Development Centre
At our Tsleil-Waututh Child & Family Development Centre, we provide holistic, quality care for children from six months to five years old. We promote healthy development in children, families and the community using a strength-based approach, which is family focused, community-based and culturally inclusive.
We have incorporated traditional Tsleil-Waututh education, language, and culture into our childcare curriculum, in response to what our community, leadership, and parents have requested. We also look at other First Nations’ cultures and the cultures of families enrolled in the centre. We recognize moving to a new environment can be challenging, so we support young preschool students moving into kindergarten. We want parents and our childcare and school teams to feel confident about the transition. Our goal is to help put children on the path to success in their educational careers. We have daycare 30 seats open to the greater community, providing support for infants, toddlers and pre-school. Parents can apply here. TWN has won a Child Care Award of Excellence in the innovation category, one of four awarded by the Ministry of Child and Family Development, in all licensed child care centres in BC.
You can find more information on the Child & Family Development Centre here.
We house training, employment and income assistance within our education program. By clustering our services together, we can offer people more opportunities―education, individual learning plans for each person, life skills to pursue goals, and more―as people engage in an educational journey. We have income assistance in our computer lab to give clients better access to tools and resources.
We also have a referral system to support people with a continuum of service delivery, from literacy to education, training, skill development and employment. We have assessment tools so we know what each person’s interests, skills and goals are, and can better address any barriers.
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.”
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.
Youth, Family & Elder Programs
We run traditionally-based parenting programs to support families, and a breakfast program so kids go to school well fed. We can help parents with contributions to nutritious meals and offer a return to work program for parents when children reach three years of age.
We have open gym time when children, youth, and families are all welcome. We offer weekly activities―arts programs, modern and traditional dance, drumming and singing, powwow nights, language classes, cooking programs, traditional food preservation, swimming, skateboarding and other outings. We also run a summer day camp for school-aged children and mentor youth to become camp counsellors. We offer the Vancouver Kids Up Front program in our community with opportunities for children, youth and families to participate in outings to arts, culture, sports, and recreation events.
We have repatriated an old “Coming of Age” tradition of honouring and preparing girls to become women. Staff takes our girls by boat to an empowerment camp in our traditional territory in Indian Arm for a sacred coming of age ceremony.
Our goals are to foster positive engagement and self-esteem among youth, reconnect with traditional values, and promote healthy lifestyles.
In addition, we support social interaction and activities among our Elders, with arts and crafts workshops, social lunches with other nations, traditional drumming and singing, connecting Elders with children and youth, computer classes, and health workshops. We help Elders navigate the health system and advocate to promote their longevity and health. We want to give Elders opportunities they missed due to residential schools, support them through their personal healing, and reconnect them to language, culture and traditional programs. Our goal is to have happier, healthier Elders who are connected with the rest of the community.
Our Tsleil-Waututh Community Centre has a full gymnasium, hall and kitchen, with space for sporting events, community gatherings, meetings and other special occasions. We also rent space in the centre to non-Tsleil-Waututh individuals, groups and organizations.
You can read more about the TWN Community Centre here.
If you have any questions, please contact:
Michael Wilson, Community Centre Manager
Phone: (604) 990-5573
We hold annual ceremonial salmon and crab fisheries for the community, based on seasonal run sizes and conservation measures. We start giving fresh salmon to our Elders and continue distributing until the fish is gone. We use the same approach for any elk hunt, prawns, crab and halibut. We distribute fresh fish in season, as well as canned, smoked or frozen fish during winter months.
Our goal for the food fish program is to increase TWN’s access to all seafood species traditionally harvested in our territory.