“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.
Tsleil-Waututh Nation Consultation Area
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.
To ensure that archaeology and cultural heritage resources are protected and managed in a manner that is consistent with Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s values and Stewardship, a Tsleil-Waututh Cultural Heritage Permit (CHP) must be obtained prior to archaeological work (including but not limited to archaeology overview assessments (AOA), archaeology impact assessments (AIA), preliminary field reconnaissance (PFR), chance find procedures (CFP), and monitoring). If you are a cultural heritage professional, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to access cultural heritage policy and CHP information.
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
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.
“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:
Burrard Inlet Environmental Science and Stewardship Agreement
In 2021, TWN and Canada signed the Burrard Inlet Environmental Science and Stewardship Agreement. This agreement established a $20 million dollar fund that distributes $2 million annually to TWN for 10 years to fund environmental science and stewardship work in Burrard Inlet. The agreement also established a joint Tsleil-Waututh – Crown Burrard Inlet Environmental Science and Stewardship Secretariat to coordinate stewardship activities and scientific work in the inlet. TLR uses this funding to support the ongoing stewardship work that Tsleil-Waututh people have been doing since time out of mind, and it enables long-term work based on TWN priorities and timelines, rather than relying on funding for activities defined by others. Below is a report on TLR’s work related to this agreement in 2021-22.
Natural Resource Planning
Our Natural Resources Planning Team is working to uphold the TWN’s stewardship obligations, to strengthen TWN’s voice in governance and decision-making regarding natural resources in the TWN’s unceded territory, and to implement key TWN policies and plans. This work is informed by community engagement and encourages opportunities to collaborate with other TWN departments and outside partners.
In July 2018, TLR hosted a Climate Summit that was attended by over 150 people.
TWN is leading a project, in collaboration with the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (BC ENV), to update the 1990 Provincial Water Quality Objectives for Burrard Inlet. Work on this initiative is implementing a high priority action item in the TWN’s Burrard Inlet Action Plan, and is taking important steps towards improving the water quality and health of Burrard Inlet. Contaminant reports and updated water quality objectives, which integrate TWN values for Burrard Inlet, can be found on the Burrard Inlet Water Quality button above.
Related to this water quality improvement initiative, TLR has hosted a series of Burrard Inlet Science Symposiums (BISS) to build awareness of the need for action to improve the health of Burrard Inlet. Our 3rd BISS – Stormwater Edition – was held in May 2019, and featured presentations on ecotoxicology, economics and green infrastructure successes pertaining to stormwater. May 2019 Burrard Inlet Science Symposium presentations:
- Carleen Thomas & Lindsey Ogston
- Peter Ross
- Stephanie Blair
- Roy Brooke
- Melina Scholefield
- Anika Calder
- Jamie Gray-Donald
- Dan Straker
TLR is working to implement existing park plans and co-management agreements and co-develop new park plans. TLR is underway to promote TWN voice and governance in the planning, development, decision-making and implementation of plans for other parks in TWN’s unceded territory.
- Say Nuth Khaw Yum Park Co-Management Plan
- Whey-ah-Wichen Park Plan
- təmtəmíxwtən / Belcarra Regional Park
Oil Spill Response
Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s Oil Spill Response program works in the Vancouver area to respond to incidents and participate in proactive activities to ensure the protection of TWN’s territory. In 2016, TWN developed an Oil Spill Response Plan that TLR updated in 2021 to incorporate up-to-date information. The plan outlines the goals, priorities and policies that have been identified by the TWN community and staff in collaboration with industry experts. Since the creation of the program and the subsequent plan, we have been engaging with response organizations and local industry to establish TWN as a fully participating member of the spill response community in Burrard Inlet.