The aim of the ɬewətəl̓ Project is to support səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation) Survivors who are comfortable sharing their knowledge, truths, and experiences of Residential and Day Schools, and any memories they have regarding children who passed, disappeared, and did not return home from Residential School.

ɬewətəl̓ is offered by the Project Steering Committee to convey the journey of healing together. 

“We do this work for children who did not return home and those that did return home. We do this work for all our relatives that suffered deeply in this school. We do this work for our descendants, those that are living and those not yet born. We do this work to bring peace to our Ancestors. We do this with the hope that it will bring healing for ourselves and our communities. nəc̓əmat tə šxwqweləwən ct (we are of one heart and mind)”

– Chief Jen Thomas & Gabriel George Sr.

This specific stage of the project is focused on the investigation at St. Paul’s Residential School, which was situated in North Vancouver. We are doing this work with care, as we gather records and accounts of the experiences of Survivors who attended the school. We are prioritizing the safety and healing of the Survivors and respecting their agency to decide if and how to participate.

səlilwətaɬ has established the ɬewətəl̓ Project within the TWN Health & Wellness Department. The project and related supports, programs and services are available to the Tsleil-Waututh Nation community from which to choose and develop a Wellness Plan that is right for each person.

Listen to the pronunciation of ɬewətəl̓ in the audio file by Gabriel George below:

As we invite səlilwətaɬ Survivors to tell their stories, and as other communities share their findings, we understand that this may trigger some of our Members and bring up many emotionsThe TWN Mental Wellness team is committed to creating holistic, trauma-based, mental wellness support services with consistent, dedicated, mental health professionals who will create culturally informed programs that meet the needs of the community.

Healing together, we want all Tsleil-Waututh Members to have access to appropriate, safe, emotional, and cultural support.

All Survivors are invited to participate and their decision to participate is completely voluntary. TWN has created a Project Booklet outlining a truth-telling diagram that describes each step along the way like stepping stones in a river: pre-recording, how the recording process will work, what Survivors can expect, how each Survivor coming forward will be supported with a Wellness Plan, and how confidentiality and consent is discussed and assured.

IRSS Artwork
Message from the Artist: My name is Ocean Hyland, a Tsleil-Waututh digital artist. My piece is digital drawing depicting a moon face, rain, lightning and plant kin. All of these elements pay homage to cycles of life and death. Rain is cleansing. Sometimes culturally after or before funeral ceremonies - it is seen as a sign that our loved ones that have passed have travelled safely to the spirit world. I wanted to include cedar and huckleberries. Dead cedar trees create a nourishing ecosystem for huckleberries to flourish. A cultural interpretation of this relationship can teach us that the cycles of death supports rebirth, and that our ancestors leave behind many gifts for us to pick up and utilize to heal, grow and live full lives.

Project Governance

All of this work is being guided by Elders, Survivors and Tsleil-Waututh Knowledge Keepers to ensure the work is done in a good way, respecting cultural protocols.

Chief and Council

  • Chief Jen Thomas ske’li’tul’tanaut
  • Councillor Charlene Aleck ts’simtelot
  • Councillor Deanna George tewalawet
  • Councillor Liana Martin wa cha wat
  • Councillor Kevin O’Neill ćəwqayətan
  • Councillor Curtis Thomas
  • Councillor Dennis Thomas whonoak

Steering Committee 

Representatives from Tsleil-Waututh leadership to oversee the program: Ernie (Bones) George, Maureen Thomas, Gabriel George Sr, and Mahara Allbrett.

 

Cultural Advisors

Guidance on cultural and ceremonial protocols – Charlene Aleck, Micheal George, Michelle George, Gabriel George Sr, Victor Guerin (on leave).

 

Project Team

  • ćećəwet leləm Helping House, Health and Wellness: Andrea Aleck, Lianne Payne
  • ɬewətəl Project: Mental Wellness Counsellor Angela Merasty
  • The Mental Wellness Team: Lara Fitzgerald, Laura Avery, Mardean Neuman, Natasha Nystrom, Nooshin Gallehdari, and Lavita Trimble
  • Treaty, Lands & Resources: for technical support (research, site investigation, archeology) Ginevra Toniello
  • Archives/records: Isabel Melendez

TWN Contact Information

Lianne Payne, IRSS Project Manager, lipayne@twnation.ca

Note: Tsleil-Waututh community members, please contact Lianne for a copy of the ɬewətəl̓ Project Booklet.

 

Holding Hands

Crisis Supports and Mental Health Resources

The TWN Crisis Response Plan is for staff and community members who are worried about their own safety and safety of others and the ability to cope with traumatic triggers. 

If you or anyone you know is looking for support services for counselling or urgent after hours care please do reach out to the following contacts. If there are any individuals who require assistance completing residential school application forms, we can support you to complete this process. Please reach out and ask us.

During business hours the following TWN counsellors can do in-person or distance risk assessments and referrals and counselling services:

After business hours, if you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis outside of regular working hours, please call 9-1-1 or go to the closest Hospital Emergency Room.

Claim forms: We can support anyone who requires assistance completing Residential or Day School claim forms. Please reach out to Mardean Neuman at 604 787 5468.

External Supports

Other crisis response supports include:

2022 TWN Pilgrimage

Tsleil-Waututh Nation Commemorates the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation) previously commemorated the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30th) with a healing Pilgrimage from the TWN community to the former site of St. Paul’s Residential School in 2021 and a Pilgrimage back home to community in 2022. 

Learn more about the 2021 TWN Pilgrimage and the 2022 TWN Pilgrimage.