First Nation Natives of Sechelt
The Sechelt First Nations People
There is a well-documented ancient presence of the Sechelt First Nations People on Nelson Island and especially within Sechelt Inlet. Petroglyphs, which are messages carved into rocks centuries ago, remain as evidence of this presence. As settlers arrived in British Columbia and as the gems of old-growth forests caught the eyes of logging corporations, the Sechelt people struggled with a depleting population as well as the threat of losing their language and traditions. Today, the Sechelt Band is taking strides to overcome years of depression by educating the public of its history and reintroducing near-extinct customs into their culture.
The Sechelt Band has been fairly successful at doing this largely due to a 1986 decision that gave the Nation the elite status of being an independent, self-governing body. The Sechelt Indian Government District now, finally, holds jurisdiction over its lands and is able to provide services such as education to its residents. The Sechelt people have not only made efforts to educate their children of the band’s history and traditions but they have also reached out to the public through a museum and feast house in the town of Sechelt. Any visitors are welcome to learn about the Sechelt people at the Tems Swiya Museum here and they can even imagine celebrations in an aboriginal long house at the Feast House, shishalh tl’e enak-awxw, built ten years ago.
The Sechelt People, or shishalh, are made up of four sub-groups that spoke the language of shashishalem. The groups amalgamated in 1925 but the group that once lived along the pristine banks of the Sechelt, Salmon and Narrows Inlets were called the tewankw.
Learn more about Kayaking the Sechelt area with Kits Kayaking Tours