The Tsleil-Waututh Nation, or “People of the Inlet,” traditionally lived in the area that stretches from Mount Garibaldi to the mouth of the Fraser River. Today, nearly half of its 500 members reside on a small reserve in North Vancouver. Located in a rapidly-changing urban environment, the Nation has become economically active, operating several successful businesses. Despite modernization, Tsleil-Waututh is determined to maintain its cultural practices and plays an active role in the environmental stewardship of its traditional territory.
The Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN) is nestled along a short stretch of southern B.C. coastline, a tiny fraction of its traditional territory on the shores of the Salish Sea. Since becoming B.C.’s first self-governing urban First Nation with its Treaty in 2009, TFN has been growing economically and culturally. Construction is underway on a super-mall that will create jobs and income; non-indigenous people are paying top dollar for new houses on TFN lands.
Vancouver Urban area is home to over 40,000 Aboriginal people. Those numbers are increasing, and Metis people have the highest rate of population growth. The Urban Aboriginal Study noted a high proportion of urban Aboriginal people maintain strong connections to their cultural heritage. Over the past few years, there has been a proliferation of Aboriginal organizations to provide service to Aboriginal people in Vancouver, such as Friendship Centers.
The Sto:lō, or “People of the River,” are original inhabitants of lands throughout the Fraser Valley. Today, there are over 10,000 Sto:lō people, governed by two distinct political entities: Sto:lō Nation and Sto:lō Tribal Council. Fishing is a longstanding tradition amongst the Sto:lō, with special esteem placed on salmon.
A strong nation with the salmon and the thunderbird at the heart of its identity, the Squamish Nation is sixteen united tribes, with community locations spanning from the town of Squamish to North Vancouver. While the Squamish peoples maintain deep cultural connections to Squamish traditional lands, many in the Nation are involved in business, education and politics. It’s considered an honor to be recognized as an elder, which amongst the Squamish peoples, has more to do with wisdom rather than age.