Travel to Learn in the Traditional Territories of Coast Salish Peoples
Published On: June 21, 2021
Southern Gulf Island Tourism acknowledges that we work and live in the unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples whenever we invite you to visit this special place. These islands were home to indigenous peoples from several Indigenous nations for thousands of years before settlers began making establishing their own homes starting in the mid-nineteenth century. The rest of us increasingly enjoy visiting the beautiful Salish Sea islands of Galiano, Mayne, Pender, Salt Spring, and Saturna. When we genuinely acknowledge the history of a place before we visit, we open ourselves to a much richer travel experience.
We acknowledge the SENĆOŦEN – speaking Nations that are part of the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Group and the HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’ – speaking Nations who comprise their own HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’ Treaty Group. We are reminded on National Indigenous Peoples Day that we have much to learn from those with different world views and whose wisdom about the land and water has been passed down for generations.
SENĆOŦEN on Mayne
Mayne Island Heritage group recently worked with the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Group to produce storyboards for their museum’s Indigenous Heritage Partnership Project. When you visit, you can read the panels that tell of their creation story:
It goes back to the creation time when XÁLS walked among the W̱SÁNEĆ people, showing them the proper way to live. He took some of the people and threw them out into the ocean where they became islands. XÁLS turned to them and said: “Look after your relatives, the W̱SÁNEĆ people.” XÁLS then turned to the people and said: “You will also look after ṮEṮÁĆES, your Relatives of the Deep.” This is what XÁLS asked of us in return for the care that our Relatives of the Deep provide us.
In SENĆOŦEN, Mayne Island (and Galiano Island) are called S,KŦAK, a word meaning canoe or boat pass in reference to Active Pass that lies between the two islands. The elders ask that the people living on these lands remain connected to the land and water. The lesson in the creation story calls us to respect all life on the lands, in the seas, along the shores, and in the mountains as though it has human spirit – plants, animals, fish, and whales to name a few. Here are some more SENĆOŦEN words to continue our learning journey about the places we love to visit.
SENĆOŦEN (sun-CHAH-thun) – Language of Tsartlip, Tsawout, Tseycum, and Pauquachin First Nations
W̱SÁNEĆ (who-Say-nuch) – Emerging land / people
S,KŦAK (sk-THACK) – Canoe / boat pass
Á,LELEṈ (AY-lu-lung) – Houses, homes, village place
ṮEṮÁĆES (tlu-TLAY-chus) – Island, a relative of the deep
XÁLS (hy-AYLS) – Creator, God, Transformer
HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’ on Salt Spring
On Salt Spring Island, Quw’utsun peoples and others, part of the HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’ Treaty Group, created the Stqeeye’ Learning Society to foster relationships to land and water at Xwaaqw’um Village (known by settlers as Burgoyne Bay). Xwaaqw’um Village is across Sansum Narrows from Hwtl’upnets (Maple Bay).
Xwaaqw’um has always been an important place for local First Nations to source their shellfish, plants, medicines, and animals. It has also always been a place of cultural importance used for ceremonial purposes. In fact, the area is part of their creation story involving Hwmet’atsum (Mount Maxwell). This information is from the Stqeeye’ Learning Society and interested readers can find more on their website.
Corporate Office: 357 Old Scott Road, Salt Spring Island, BC V8K 2L9
We are grateful to live on and visit the Southern Gulf Islands and acknowledge that the lands and waters that encompass these islands have been home to Indigenous peoples since time immemorial, part of the traditional unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, including W̱SÁNEĆ First Nations and Hul’quimi’num Treaty Group.