səl̓ilw̓ət (Sleilwaut) - Burrard Inlet and Indian Arm

səl̓ilw̓ət seen from the north fence line of Kushiro Park. Photo by Bryan Myles.
Traveling səl̓ilw̓ət via canoe on a Takaya Tour. Photo by Ariane Colenbrander.

səl̓ilw̓ət is the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ (Hun’qumyi’num) name for Burrard Inlet and Indian Arm, and is the place from which the səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) people derive their name. The commonly used term Tsleil-Waututh is an anglicised version of səl̓ilw̓ət with a possessive suffix. The literal translation of Tsleil-Waututh is “The People of the Inlet”.

Until the early 20th century, the səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ primarily travelled on the water using cedar canoes, and were sustained by the waters of the inlet in many ways. The rich marine resources of səl̓ilw̓ət such as salmon, herring, clams, and birds were an important part of the people’s diet, and the success of daily activities such as marine hunting and harvesting relied upon detailed knowledge of the seasons, and associated tides and currents.

View of səl̓ilw̓ət from the end of the north arm looking south. Photo by Gabriel George.

For generations, the səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ have hunted, gathered, and managed the landscape, and made their homes in the watersheds of səl̓ilw̓ət. Today, the people continue to inhabit their traditional territories and embody a sacred trust and commitment to care for their lands and waters.

Before much of the industrial and residential development we see today, there were numerous trails within the territory connecting villages, families, and resource gathering areas. Oral histories, supported by the archaeological record, tell of the existence of lookout stations and large defensive structures that fenced in villages and would have been instrumental in protecting the səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ from external raiders.   

Additional Information


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.Carter, Anthony

     1966 Somewhere Between. Anthony Carter, Vancouver.

George, Gabriel

   2018  Personal Communication. Tsleil-Waututh Nation 3075 Takaya Drive North  Vancouver, BC.

MacDonald, Colleen, Diana Drake, John Doerksen, and Michael Cotton

     1998 Between Forest and Sea: Memories of Belcarra, Belcarra Historical

          Group, Belcarra B.C.

Matthews, John S.

     1955 Conversations with Khatsahlano. Compiled by The City Archivist

          Vancouver, British Columbia.

Morin, Jesse

     2015 Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s History, Culture and Aboriginal Interests in  

          Eastern Burrard Inlet (Redacted Version). Report prepared for Gowling  

          Lafleur Henderson LLP, Toronto, Ontario. Accessed online August 5, 2015,