Welcome Poles Displayed at təmtəmíxʷtən (Belcarra Regional Park) and Whey-ah-Wichen (Cates Park)

Welcome Poles Displayed at təmtəmíxʷtən (Belcarra Regional Park) and Whey-ah-Wichen (Cates Park)

News & UpdatesWelcome Poles Displayed at təmtəmíxʷtən (Belcarra Regional Park) and Whey-ah-Wichen (Cates Park)

Welcome Poles Displayed at təmtəmíxʷtən (Belcarra Regional Park) and Whey-ah-Wichen (Cates Park)

Background on the project:  

Whey-ah-Wichen (Cates Park) in North Vancouver and təmtəmíxʷtən (Belcarra Regional Park) in Belcarra are important village sites for səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation).  
Increasing səlilwətaɬ visibility across the territory is a goal of the Nation, especially in these sites of deep importance.  

Building on cooperation agreements with Metro Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver, and with funding from Destination BC, the Nation commissioned TsuKwatlon (Jonas Jones) to carve a welcome figure for each of the village sites. The pieces depict significant səlilwətaɬ stories that took place in this part of the territory.


“səlilwətaɬ Chief and Council are incredibly pleased to see the poles by carver Jonas Jones welcome everyone to Whey-ah-Wichen and təmtəmíxʷtən. These traditional village sites hold deep importance to our Tsleil-Waututh people, and we are pleased to have them connected in this culturally significant way. Our hands are raised in appreciation of the ongoing collaboration with our partners at Metro Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver for making this project a success.” 

-Chief Jen Thomas, səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation) 

“The work done today is an important traditional practice that has been passed down by our ancestors and represents who we are as səlilwətaɬ people. It is significant because it brings these works of art to life and gives some separation between the artist and their work. We appreciate the work done by Jonas to represent our community.” 

-Gabriel George, Director of Treaty, Lands, and Resources, səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation) 

Statement by TsuKwalton (Jonas Jones): 

I am thankful to share this gift of these welcome poles. These poles are for the next generations and for everyone to learn more about the rich history of the Tsleil-Waututh people. Carvings like this hold our history and act as a chance to pass down wisdom, and I am grateful to pass these back to the people.  
Three years ago, this project was just a dream.  I am thankful to my mentor Ses Siyam (Ray Natraoro) for teaching me and pushing me towards my goal of bringing these works back to the Tsleil-Waututh people.  
The lands where these poles are located are rich in culture and spirituality. These are more than pieces of art; they are an opportunity to pass along our teachings. Our people belong here. 

Learn more about the background of the welcome poles as told by carver TsuKwalton (Jonas Jones) 

Serpent Slayer  

Carved by TsuKwalton (Jonas Jones), 2023  

Long ago, as the waters of the great flood receded, sʔi:ɬqəy̓ (the great two-headed serpent) lay across səl̓ilwət (Burrard Inlet). sʔi:ɬqəy̓ was a sƛeləqəm (powerful being) and all other living creatures feared and avoided it at all costs. Its gaze was more deadly than the fire from lightning.  

One day, a young səl̓ilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh or person of the inlet) boy living at təmtəmíxʷtən was swept away by a seal while swimming alone as his sister watched. The seals began to raise him as their own. The sea world prepped the boy to become a great warrior who would face the most difficult task: slaying sʔi:ɬqəy̓.  

After a decade of travelling the world, training, learning, and living with his kin of the sea kingdom, he returned to təmtəmíxʷtən, ready to fight the giant two-headed serpent.  

This was a gruesome battle and required the warrior to use carefully prepared arrows laced with pitch from a special tree. He struck the serpent twice, one arrow to each head. The serpent fell to its death and the warrior saved the land.  

After his great battle with sʔi:ɬqəy̓, the warrior returned to təmtəmíxʷtən and stabbed the ground with the two-headed serpent’s fang, opening a freshwater spring and sparing his people from having to travel for their water.  

səlilwətaɬ / Tsleil-Waututh Nation 

Return Of The Orca  

Carved by TsuKwalton (Jonas Jones), 2023  

wacəq II (1770-1840) was a Great Chief of səl̓ilwət (Burrard Inlet) with his primary residence at təmtəmíxʷtən (Belcarra). Like his father, he had a close relationship with the natural world. He had a particularly strong connection with marine life. He once came upon two young boys throwing rocks at spawning sce:ɬtən (salmon) in ʔənlil̕wət (Indian River). To teach the boys a lesson about their connection to the sce:ɬtən, he asked the sce:ɬtən to leave the river. It was spawning season and ʔənlil̕wət was usually so full of sce:ɬtən, one could practically walk across it. Distressed, the people pleaded with wacəq II, and he asked the sce:ɬtən to return to ʔənlil̕wət.  

wacəq II was also a proficient hunter and specially trained warrior. He defended səl̓ilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation) Territory from attacks by other First Nations. He met his fate at the hands of several Kwakwaka’wakw arrows while defending ʔənlil̓wətaɬ (Inlailawatash, a village near the mouth of the Indian River). Like his father and the leaders who preceded them, he was wrapped in cedar bark and placed in a traditional tree burial on an island near təmtəmíxʷtən.  

European missionaries considered this burial illegitimate and pressured James Sla-holt, wacəq II’s son, to move his father’s remains to an in-ground burial at sʔəθnəc (Tsleil-Waututh North Shore reserve) cemetery. As wacəq II was moved across səl̓ilwət, two q̓əlɬaləməcən (orcas) escorted his canoe all the way to shore. As the q̓əlɬaləməcən slipped away, it marked the last time they were to be seen in səl̓ilwət for many decades.  

Today, səl̓ilwətaɬ (the people of the inlet) continue to steward the land and water as they have since time out of mind. They have made major contributions to healing səl̓ilwət of the degradation of industrialism and colonialism. Recent sightings of q̓əlɬaləməcən in səl̓ilwət are a positive sign and a testament to the resilience of səl̓ilwət and the people that call it home.  

səlilwətaɬ / Tsleil-Waututh Nation 

Acknowledgements: This project was led by the səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation) in partnership with the District of North Vancouver and Metro Vancouver with funding from Destination BC and Indigenous Tourism BC. 

For media inquiries or additional information please contact communications@twnation.ca

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