Ch'ich eliwxih - Mt. Seymour Watershed, North Vancouver

Looking north at Ch’ich eliwxih from 4000 level AQ Building, Burnaby Campus.
Ch’ich eliwxih village on Seymour Creek ca. 1886. Photo from Major Matthews collection, Vancouver Archives.

Ch’ich eliwxih is the name for Mt. Seymour watershed, as well as the name of a village located at the mouth of Seymour River on the North Shore of Burrard Inlet. The meaning of Ch’ich eliwxih is unclear; one interpretation is that it may derive from the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) word “ch’ich” (pure land).

The rich marine and terrestrial environment of Ch’ich eliwxih provided spiritual and physical nourishment for the people of the village. Those seeking spiritual training would have spent long periods in the mountain’s alpine areas, which were forbidden to most people. Higher elevations are places of power where water is pure and the landscape is relatively untouched. The waters flowing from Ch’ich eliwxih feed the nearby fishing location of Stitsma, located along the Seymour River. Today, people continue to fish for salmon in this location.

During the summer, Skwxwú7mesh families harvested clams on beaches at the mouth of Seymour River, extending westward to Lynn Creek, a practice that is no longer viable do to development. Clams were dug using digging sticks and placed in open weave baskets. The abundant clam beaches in Burrard Inlet were important because the resource was limited elsewhere within Skwxwú7mesh territory. Men hunted deer in the area making sure to follow cultural rules dictating ways in which they could be hunted, cooked, and consumed. Almost all parts of the animal were used for food and clothing.

The bountiful resources available around Ch’ich eliwxih enabled the people to hold feasts, commonly referred to today as potlatches. Feasts and winter dances were held in the village longhouse that was estimated to be 200 feet long; it required six large fires for heat. Ceremonial practices continued at Ch’ich eliwxih despite a legislative ban enacted by the Canadian Government between 1884 and 1951 that made practicing Indigenous culture a criminal offence. 

Additional Information

Location:

Ch’ich eliwxihcan (Mt. Seymour) can be viewed from many locations at SFU's Burnaby campus and from Burnaby Mountain Park.  

The Cheakamus Bighouse:

The Cheakamus Bighouse is and example of a traditional Coast Salish plank-house. It is located in Paradise Valley, British Columbia and used for Indigenous cultural education.

Cheakamus Centre website: http://www.cheakamuscentre.ca/programs/aboriginal-education-programs

Sources:

Bouchard, Randy, and Dorothy Kennedy

      1986 Squamish Nation Land Use And Occupancy. Report submitted to Squamish

            Nation Chiefs and Council, BC Indian Language Project, Victoria,    

            British Columbia.

      1976a Knowledge And Usage of Land Mammals Birds, Insects, Reptiles And     

            Amphibians By The Squamish Indian People Of British Columbia. BC Indian

            Language Project, Victoria, British Columbia.

      1976b Utilization Of Fish, Beach Foods, And Marine Mammals By The

            Squamish Indian People Of British Columbia. BC Indian Language Project,

            Victoria, British Columbia.

Bouchard, Randy, and Nancy Turner

      1976 Ethnobotany Of The Squamish Indian People Of British Columbia. BC

            Indian Language Project, Victoria, British Columbia.

Matthews, John S.

      1955 Conversations with Khatsahlano. Compiled by The City Archivist

            Vancouver, British Columbia.

Reimer, Rudy

      2011 The Mountains and Rocks are Forever: Lithics and Landscapes of   

            Skwxwú7mesh Uxwumixw. Unpublished Ph.D Dissertation, Department of

            Anthropology, McMaster University, Hamilton.