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guide about people booklet Hul'q'umi'num'



Chief Jim Hornbrook of Hwlitsum First Nation
with Jared Qwustenuxun Williams
49.068130, -123.151835

Since time immemorial

Chief Jim Hornbrook

Here at Brunswick Point, we are looking out to the tidal estuary where the Fraser River's fresh water and the Salish Sea's saltwater meet. A diverse ecosystem that is the gateway to some of the world's largest salmon runs. The tidal marshland and surrounding area provide valuable rearing ground for sea-bound salmon but also are an intricate spot on the Pacific Flyway. The Estuary and surrounding uplands are ideal for migrating and local birdlife to rest, feed and nest. The Creator provided the river delta with its sloughs, waterways and marshland, a unique ecosystem able to support all the necessities of life. Prior to contact, the vast area teaming with substance supported many Coast Salish communities. Living their way of life, as part of the ecosystem, at one with the Mother Earth.

The Hwlitsum people are descendants of the greater Hul'q'umi'num Mustimuhw (Hul'q'umi'num' language speakers). Hul'q'umi'num' is a Coast Salish dialect spoken by the Indigenous people from the Lower Vancouver Island area that borders the Salish Sea. Prior to contact, as part of their seasonal harvesting cycle, since time immemorial the Hwlitsum people would travel to and occupy their ancestral summer harvesting and fishing camp here at Brunswick Point. Our ancestors were warriors who stood up to the authorities when they didn't like the way First Nations lands were being taken over by settlers. Our continued resistance to colonization led to the British Navy bombing and burning our winter village at Lamalchi Bay in 1863. Some of our people sought refuge with family in the intertwined greater Coast Salish community. Some preferred the safety of our ancestral summer village at Brunswick Point. A vantage point where you could see anyone coming from any direction. Remember, this was a time when Indian Agents ruled the territories enforcing the discriminatory policies of the day like the Indian Act and mandatory attendance of Indigenous children to residential school.

The colonization of the area in the late 1800's, the implementation of the Indian Act, the creation of Indian Reserves, dramatically affected our way of life. As did the industrialization of the salmon fishery which began with the advent of canning. Salmon became a commodity, one caught and sold for profit. First Nations people traditionally caught fish for food, social, and ceremonial purposes. Discriminatory policies, the Indian Act, and the Fisheries Act limited First Nations capacity to engage meaningfully in any developing commercial fishery.

Being salmon people and fishers, our ancestors were attracted by the socio-economics of the developing commercial salmon fishery. When a cannery was built near the site of our ancestral summer fishing camp–the remnants are still visible today–our people seen opportunity for housing, employment and security outside of the Indian Act's reserve system. As such we chose to live our Indigenous way of life outside of the Indian Act, off reserve. One of the sacrifices our ancestors made was the ability to freely speak our language. Over time much has changed, there was a viable community here until the early 1970's.

Since time immemorial our people have sustained our Indigenous way of life here gathering substance then and we still do today. Although the area has been scarred due to industrialization, the Hwlitsum people have always been a fixture in Canoe Pass. Just because it is not reserve land does not mean First Nations people have not existed here.

I speak to the wisdom of our ancestors, that has been learned through our oral history and passed down through the generations. Pursuant to our laws and spiritual beliefs we are charged with special rights and responsibilities as custodians of our ancestral and traditional lands.

On behalf of our ancestors, elders, and all the Hwlitsum people as custodians of our territory, welcome all to share the natural beauty of the area we have called home since time immemorial.