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Sunshine Coast First Nations

Welcome to the traditional territories of the Squamish (skwxwú7mesh), Sechelt (shíshálh), and Sliammon (tla’Amin) First Nations. The First Nations people have been on this land since time immemorial. Part of the larger Coast Salish people, they engaged in fishing, hunting, and trade, and were noted for their totem poles, cedar canoes, and unique language. Today, the Coast Salish people continue to contribute culturally and economically to the Sunshine Coast.  From artist demonstrations to learning about the ecosystems, the First Nations of the Sunshine Coast are ready to share their abundance of history and rich culture.

The shíshálh Nation:

"The shíshálh territory has always been defined by natural landmarks from the named mountain tops down through their valleys, brooks, steams, rivers and lakes to the coastal shores, inlets and open waters forming the regional watersheds. Those territories include the entire area draining into lilkw' émin (Agamemnon Channel) swiwelát (Princess Louisa Inlet)?álhtulich (Sechelt Inlet), stl'ixwim (Narrows Inlet), skúpa (Salmon Inlet), smit (Hotham Sound), and part of sínku (the open waters of Malaspina Strait and Georgia Strait) including the southern half of slháltikan (Texada Island) and chichxwalish (Sabine Channel).
totems The name shishálh, from the language of sháshishálem, refers to the entire population descended from the four sub-groups that officially amalgamated in 1925. They include xénichen at the head of Jervis Inlet), ts 'únay (at Deserted Bay), téwánkw ( in Sechelt, Salmon and Narrow Inlets), and sxixus.

However you travel, you'll know you have arrived when you see the massive sloping roof of the House of héwhíwus (House of Chiefs) complex and the Raven's Cry Theatre. The raven, a mischievous bird in shíshálh folklore, is a gatherer and collector of stories. This storytelling house of the raven features plays, concerts recitals and big screen movies nightly.

Visitors are invited to attend cultural events throughout the year, hosted by our community.

The tems swiya museum welcomes you to a journey encompassing the shíshálh land, history and culture. Stop by the tsain-ko gift shop and take home a reminder of your visit to Sechelt.

The newly built long house represents a proud return to age-old celebrations and gatherings. The shíshálh tl'e enak-awxw (Feast House), a joint project with the Sechelt Indian Band, the Federal Government and the First People's Cultural Foundation, celebrated its grand opening in October 1996. This celebration also marked the Sechelt Indian Band's 10th Anniversary of Self Government. A totem pole was raised to represent the people from xénichen (Hunaechin). The other poles raised represent the people from t'sunay (Deserted Bay), téwánkw (in Sechelt, Salmon and Narrows Inlets), and sxixus (Pender Harbour). A fifth and final pole placed in the middle represents the shíshálh as it exists today. It is located in the centre of the other four marking the amalgamation of the Band.


Tla'amin First Nation

Our community resides just north of the city of Powell River in British Columbia, along Highway 101. Our Nation is one of the many indigenous Coast Salish tribes inhabiting the Pacific Northwest Coast. Our people are descendants of a rich heritage with a history that stretches back well over 4000 years into the past.
cultureAll of our economic and political systems along with our spirituality were based on our relationship with the traditional territory of our ancestors and their unique relationship with the land.

Our traditional territory spanned along the northern part of B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, extending down both sides of the Straight of Georgia, occupying an area over 400 square kilometers in size. This consisted of numerous permanent and temporary settlements within our borders. Our people also frequently ventured outside of our territory to trade with our neighbors up and down the coast.

Today, our community has over 1100 members with the majority living in the main village site in Sliammon. We have a young population that is rapidly growing with over 60% of our members under the age of 40.
Our culture today, is a fusion of modern society shaped by traditional cultural influences. We have access to all the benefits of modern technology yet continue to carry forward ancient traditions and knowledge, through our cultural practices and customs, and also expressed through various creative-art forms. Some of these include:

Carving: skilled craftsman can carve a variety of materials like wood, stone, bone, gold and silver into various art forms. Wood carving is the most common traditional practice used to create Totem poles and other art forms. Sliammon Totem poles can be seen along the Seawalk in Powell River.

Painting: another form of cultural expression and identity. Traditional designs most often use a mix of three colors: red, black and white, with designs typically representing animals, characters, or totems of significance.

Weaving: skilled gatherers will strip sections of bark of a cedar tree and harvest suitable cedar roots with great care being taken not to harm the tree or take excess. These are then prepared into strips used for weaving ceremonial head bands, baskets, hats and other useful items.

Textiles: the creation of button blankets, vests and other traditional forms of clothing using modern materials.

Story Telling: is the primary method of teaching and passing on our knowledge especially to our youth.

Singing, Drumming and Dance: is another form of story telling and a way to connect directly with Spirit and our ancestors.

Other cultural traditions which continue to this day include our language, traditional food (such as smoked salmon), tribal journeys in canoes, and a number of other practices centered around various events and occurances such as the loss of a family member. Our Elders are also highly regarded and valued in our community, as the primary sources of knowledge and teachings.

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skwxwú7mesh Nation

The Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish People, villages and community) have a complex and rich history. Ancient connections are traced within our language through terms for place names and shared ceremony among the Salmon Peoples of the cedar longhouse.

SCT canoe journey
We are the descendants of the Coast Salish Aboriginal Peoples who lived in the present day Greater Vancouver area, Gibson’s landing and Squamish River watershed. The Squamish Nation has occupied and governed our territory since beyond recorded history. 

The Squamish culture is rich and resilient.  We continue to practice our customs and traditions, which are strongly interconnected with our traditional territory.  Together with our lands, our customs and traditions are the foundation of who we are as Skwxwú7mesh.

The Squamish People are the Indigenous Peoples who speak the Skwxwú7mesh Snichim (Squamish language). Today, the term “Squamish Nation” is often used to describe this group of Coast Salish people, however in the long ago there was no word for “nation” and the Squamish simply called themselves Skwxwú7mesh (pronounced Squ-HO-o-meesh) or “the Squamish People.” The Skwxwú7mesh Snichim, although critically endangered, is still a vital part of the Squamish culture.

Ceremonial events of the Squamish people are customarily conducted in the Longhouse. During pre-contact, certain Longhouses were utilized as community dwellings, and others were set aside for the exclusive use of the winter spiritual dances. The Longhouse is a sacred place that plays a significant role in the culture of the Coast Salish people.

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