Initial Reflections from səlilwətaɬ CAO Robert Bartlett

Initial Reflections from səlilwətaɬ CAO Robert Bartlett

News & UpdatesInitial Reflections from səlilwətaɬ CAO Robert Bartlett

Initial Reflections from səlilwətaɬ CAO Robert Bartlett

Headshot of CAO Robert Bartlett, Tsleil-Waututh Nation Robert Bartlett, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation), shares the following reflection after his first month as CAO: 

I’ve been honoured to learn from Chief and Council, the former CAO, Directors, staff, and Members in my first four weeks at this incredible Nation. I have the utmost respect for the culture, values, and vision of Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and my responsibility is to ensure our work aligns with those priorities.

On day two, I was privileged to spend time with members on the land. There was such a profound spirit of generosity when members shared about core səlilwətaɬ territory and how their culture has been shaped by their people over millennia. I’m committed to continue learning from members about their current needs and aspirations for their families and the next generations. It became clear to me early on how connections to family are integral to intergenerational prosperity.

I am working towards implementing actions based upon Chief and Council’s 2022 to 2025 Strategic Plan ʔəxʔixəltəl̓ [Paddling Together]. I’ve begun to assess programs to learn more about them as I seek to secure the funding needed to ensure their success. As we renovate our homes, build the infrastructure we need for economic prosperity for the next seven generations, cultivate our language security, and build partnerships with governments and businesses, we are defining Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s footprint as active stewards of these lands and waters.

I am impressed with the innovative programs and services delivered across all TWN departments. Honouring Elders and providing opportunities to youth to learn hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language and connect with their culture are essential elements of the work we do. I’m grateful to ćećǝwǝt lelǝm Helping House for keeping our members safe by providing a range of holistic, culturally relevant, wrap-around health and wellness services and programs. We are continually seeking partnerships to support this pillar of wellness.

Also core to the work we do is our focus on protecting and restoring səlilwətaɬ traditional and unceded lands and waters, which includes səlilwət (Burrard Inlet), xʔəl̓ilwətaʔɬ (Indian River Watershed), and beyond. We coordinate upwards of 500 protocols per year for referrals within səlilwətaɬ territory, stemming from the duty to consult and accommodate the Nation. Our expert Treaty, Lands, and Resources team examines referrals from environmental, social, and archaeological stewardship perspectives, and uses this data to make recommendations on whether or not to support the referrals, as governed by our TWN Stewardship Policy.

We are committed to building and sustaining relationships with governments and other external partners such as Simon Fraser University (SFU). On day five as CAO, I attended a SFU President’s Faculty Lecture which showcased the wisdom and experiences on Indigenous governance by Tsleil-Waututh Councillor Charlene Aleck and internationally known Tsleil-Waututh activist and author Rueben George, alongside Professor Wenona Hall, Chair of SFU’s Indigenous Studies Department. My goal is to further inform external partners about the value of reciprocity. If you would like to partner with us, first discuss your approach to partnership and how you want to learn. My invitation to partners is this: Invest with us to share in this journey together, paddling together in unity.

Artwork by the tremendously talented artist Tś simtelot Ocean Hyland was unveiled on April 4th at a ceremony where she passed her designs to lululemon for use as the 2024 Team Canada Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Pins. What this means for the country is profound as it brings together elements of culture, language, and the importance of supporting the next generations of Tsleil-Waututh members on the world stage. 

Fostering an inclusive workplace culture is also at the forefront of my mind, one where our employees feel safe and supported. We have many opportunities for hiring across departments and I would like job seekers to know that Tsleil-Waututh Nation is an incredible place to work. Join us in our journey of learning, collaboration, and reciprocity.

My priority is to continue building relationships across our departments as well as with external partners to enhance the good work being done, address gaps, improve access to funding opportunities, and continue putting the face of the Nation back on its traditional territory. The importance of culture and collaboration cannot be understated. Join us in this journey together.  

hay čxʷ q̓ə, thank you,


Robert Bartlett (he/him)
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)
səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation)

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