Coast Salish Place Names

Looking to the North Shore of Burrard Inlet with SFU' Burnaby campus in the foreground. Image courtesy SFU Creative Studio

This tour, soon to be available via the ímesh mobile app, is an acknowledgement of Coast Salish territories that takes recognition beyond words, and allows guests to physically experience the landscape and the languages of the local Coast Salish peoples.

The term Coast Salish refers to people from many different communities along the coast of the Salish Sea, near present-day southern British Columbia, Washington, and northern Oregon. Prior to colonial governments imposing boundaries on these communities and their membership, people identified themselves according to their family relationships and the villages where they lived.

Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby campus is located on the traditional territories of three Coast Salish First Nations: The xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and the səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh). These nations have a spiritual, cultural, and economic connection to this land that spans thousands of years, and they have marked the land with many named places. These place names embody stories that connect people, animals, the supernatural, villages, mountains, bodies of water, and entire territories. They represent  the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ (Hun’qumyi’num) language spoken by the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples, and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Snichim spoken by the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) people.

We are deeply indebted to Dr. Rudy Reimer (Yumks), a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh archaeologist and SFU Faculty member, and Mr. Gabriel George, a prominent community leader and Manager of Language and Culture at səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ Nation, for their guidance, support, and generosity on this project. We are deeply grateful to these two individuals for sharing their knowledge of the landscape, and of their respective languages with us.