Tsawwassen First Nation

Last updated
sc̓əwaθən məsteyəxʷ
Tsawwassen Lands
Traditional Tsawwassen tribal territory
First Nation Tsawwassen
Province British Columbia
Location Greater Vancouver
  Type Band
   Chief Ken Baird
  Affiliation:  Naut'sa mawt Tribal Council
  Total2.9 km2 (1.1 sq mi)
  Total358 estimated
Ethnic groups Coast Salish
Languages Halkomelem (hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓), English

The Tsawwassen First Nation (Halkomelem : sc̓əwaθən məsteyəxʷ, pronounced  [st͡sʼəwaθən məstejəxʷ] ) is a First Nations government whose lands are located in the Greater Vancouver area of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada, adjacent to the South Arm of the Fraser River and the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal and just north of the international boundary with the United States at Point Roberts, Washington. Tsawwassen First Nation lists its membership at approximately 490 people, about half of whom live on the reserve. [2]



The oldest finds in the area of Tsawwassen First Nation settled by means of radiocarbon dated to about 2260 BC. Other sites such as Whalen Farm and Beach Grove dating back to the presence of Tsawwassen at least until the time of 400–200 BC.

The traditional Tsawwassen area ranged in the north east to the area around Pitt Lake, Pitt River to Pitt Meadows down to where the water in the Fraser River flows. It included Burns Bog and parts of New Westminster. From Sea Island to Galiano Island and joined Salt Spring, Pender and Saturna Island. North Eastwards came the Point Roberts Peninsula added, then the area around the Serpentine and Nicomekl River. Like most First Nations people of the West Coast the Tsawwassen lived in family groups and inhabited longhouses. They carved no totem poles but ornate house posts, masks, tools with carvings etc. Also they processed cedar fibers and goat hair into dresses and headgear. Also, the wooden building material, firewood, canoes and dresses. Using tidal traps, fishing, nets and harpoons they hunted fish, especially salmon. They also harvested oysters, crabs and other sea creatures. The salmon was considered a supernatural being, and therefore had to be hunted and eaten in a very particular way. The remains were returned to the sea in a private ceremony. Numerous species of birds were on the menu, such as ducks, loons, to seals and sea lions. Land mammals such as moose, deer, black bear and beaver were hunted seasonally. Also Camassia, Cranberries and medicinal plants were harvested, also traded and exchanged.

Reserves, loss of land

In 1851, the last frontier settlements in the wake of the border treaty of 1846 between the United States and Great Britain took place. A portion of the Tsawwassen Territory was now in Point Roberts in the U.S. state of Washington. In 1858 the first cross-country road was built in British Columbia from Tsawwassen Beach to Fort Langley. In 1859, it was followed by the first inner-city street the "North Road" between Burnaby and Coquitlam. In 1871, a tiny reserve was assigned to the Tsawwassen peoples, which was enlarged in 1874 to 490 acres. Today, it covers 717 acres or 290 hectares. In 1914, chief Harry Joe sent a petition to the McKenna McBride Commission, with a request for review of reservations. The petition was dismissed. Nevertheless, young Tsawwassen First Nation peoples joined the Canadian Military in the First and Second World Wars.

In 1958, the provincial government built the BC Ferries terminal in Tsawwassen for their ferries. For this purpose, a Tsawwassen First Nation long house was demolished. When the terminal was enlarged in 1973, 1976, and 1991, there were no consultations with the Tsawwassen peoples.

The Tsawwassen First Nation is a member government of the Naut'sa mawt Tribal Council.

Treaty and land claims negotiations

The Tsawwassen, a Coast Salish people, are one of the few British Columbia First Nations to come to the end of the British Columbia Treaty Process, the others being the Nisga'a, the Temexw Treaty Association and the Lheidl T'enneh First Nation. The treaty deal would have allowed for the expansion of the Roberts Bank Superport and the employment of band members in the expanded facility, but was criticized by some as a sell-out, as the negotiated settlement modified and defined TFN's Aboriginal rights. The Treaty was ratified by Tsawwassen members in July 2007 and expanded the size of the Tsawwassen reserve by 400 hectares, offered a cash settlement of $16 million and $36 million in program funding, re-established TFN's right to self-govern, and reserved a portion of the Fraser River salmon catch to the Tsawwassen. In return, the Tsawwassen would abandon other land claims and would eventually pay taxes. [3] On April 3, 2009, after 14 years of negotiations, the Tsawwassen First Nation implemented the Final Agreement and became self-governing. In 2009, the first election of the new Legislature was called as the existing Indian Act was replaced. [4] Tsawwassen First Nation then also became the first First Nation to become a full member of the Metro Vancouver regional district (now Metro Vancouver). [5]

In January 2012, a "mega-mall" project was approved by the Tsawwassen First Nation, with 43 percent of the eligible voters taking part. Of that 43 percent who voted, 97 percent were in favor of the project. The mall is expected to create jobs and stimulate tourism for the community. The resulting Tsawwassen Mills mall, built by Ivanhoé Cambridge, opened on October 5, 2016. [6]

See also

Related Research Articles

Lower Mainland Region in British Columbia, Canada

The Lower Mainland is a geographic and cultural region of the mainland coast of British Columbia that generally comprises the regional districts of Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley. Home to approximately 2.83 million people as of the 2016 Canadian census, the Lower Mainland contains sixteen of the province's 30 most populous municipalities and approximately 60% of the province's total population.

British Columbia Ferry Services Inc., operating as BC Ferries (BCF), is a former provincial Crown corporation, now operating as an independently managed, publicly owned Canadian company. BC Ferries provides all major passenger and vehicle ferry services for coastal and island communities in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Set up in 1960 to provide a similar service to that provided by the Black Ball Line and the Canadian Pacific Railway, which were affected by job action at the time, BC Ferries has become the largest passenger ferry line in North America, operating a fleet of 36 vessels with a total passenger and crew capacity of over 27,000, serving 47 locations on the B.C. coast.

Delta, British Columbia City in British Columbia, Canada

Delta is a city in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia, Canada, as part of Greater Vancouver. Located on the Fraser Lowland south of Fraser River's south arm, it is bordered by the city of Richmond on the Lulu Island to the north, New Westminster to the northeast, Surrey to the east, the Boundary Bay and the American pene-exclave Point Roberts to the south, and the Strait of Georgia to the west.

Strait of Georgia Waterway between Vancouver Island and mainland North America

The Strait of Georgia or the Georgia Strait is an arm of the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and the extreme southwestern mainland coast of British Columbia, Canada and the extreme northwestern mainland coast of Washington, United States. It is approximately 240 kilometres (150 mi) long and varies in width from 20 to 58 kilometres. Along with the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound, it is a constituent part of the Salish Sea.

Tsawwassen Neighbourhood in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Tsawwassen is a suburban, mostly residential community on a peninsula in the southwestern corner of the City of Delta in British Columbia, Canada. It provides the only road access to the American territory on the southern tip of the peninsula, the community of Point Roberts, Washington, via 56th Street. It is also the location of Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, part of the BC Ferries, built in 1959 to provide foot-passenger and motor vehicle access from the Lower Mainland to the southern part of Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands. Because Tsawwassen touches a shallow bank, the ferry terminal is built at the southwestern end of a 3 km (1.9 mi) causeway that extends into the Strait of Georgia. Boundary Bay Airport, a major training hub for local and international pilots which also provides local airplane and helicopter service, is ten minutes away. The Roberts Bank Superport is also nearby.

Index of British Columbia–related articles Wikipedia index

The following is an alphabetical list of articles related to the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Sto꞉lo First Nations ethnic group of British Columbia, Canada

The Stó꞉lō, alternately written as Sto꞉lo, Stó:lô, or Stó:lõ, historically as Staulo or Stahlo, and historically known and commonly referred to in ethnographic literature as the Fraser River Indians or Lower Fraser Salish, are a group of First Nations peoples inhabiting the Fraser Valley and lower Fraser Canyon of British Columbia, Canada, part of the loose grouping of Coast Salish nations. Stó꞉lō is the Halqemeylem word for "river". The Stó꞉lō are the river people. The first documented reference to these people as "the Stó꞉lō" occurs in Catholic Oblate missionary records from the 1880s. Prior to this, references were primarily to individual tribal groups such as Matsqui, Ts’elxweyeqw, or Sumas.

Tsleil-Waututh First Nation Autonomous area in British Columbia, Canada

The Tsleil-Waututh Nation, formerly known as the Burrard Indian Band or Burrard Inlet Indian Band, is a First Nations band government in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The Tsleil-Waututh Nation ("TWN") are Coast Salish peoples who speak hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓, the Downriver dialect of the Halkomelem language, and are closely related to but politically and culturally separate from the nearby nations of the Squamish and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), with whose traditional territories some claims overlap.

Musqueam Indian Band Autonomous area in British Columbia, Canada

The Musqueam Indian Band is a First Nations band government in the Canadian province of British Columbia and is the only First Nations band whose reserve community lies within the boundaries of the City of Vancouver.


Katzie First Nation is an Indigenous band located in the Lower Fraser Valley in British Columbia, Canada. They are part of the Sto:lo Coast Salish group of peoples, historically referred to by European settlers as Fraser River Indians or Fraser Salish. Their band government is the Katzie First Nation, which does not belong to either of the two Sto:lo tribal councils.

Tsawwassen ferry terminal

Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, as part of the BC Ferries system and of Highway 17, is a major transportation facility in Delta, British Columbia, positioned less than 500 metres (1,600 ft) from the 49th parallel along the Canada–United States border. It is located at the southwestern end of a 3-kilometre (2 mi) artificial causeway that juts out into the Strait of Georgia off the mainland at the community of Tsawwassen. With an approximate size of 23-hectare (57-acre), it is the largest ferry terminal in North America.

Coast Salish Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America

The Coast Salish is a group of ethnically and linguistically related Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, living in British Columbia, Canada and the U.S. states of Washington and Oregon. They speak one of the Coast Salish languages. The Nuxalk nation are usually included in the group, although their language is more closely related to Interior Salish languages.

Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council is a First Nations Tribal Council located in British Columbia, Canada, with offices in Tsawwassen and Nanaimo. NmTC advises and assists its 11-member Nations in the areas of Community Planning, Economic Development, Financial Management, Governance and Technical Services NmTC is also actively involved in fostering dialogue and understanding between its members and their neighbouring communities.

Semiahmoo First Nation

Semiahmoo First Nation is the band government of the Semiahmoo people, a Coast Salish subgroup. The band's main community and offices are located on the 312 acres (1.3 km2) Semiahmoo Indian Reserve which is sandwiched between the boundary of White Rock, British Columbia and the Canada–United States boundary and Peace Arch Provincial Park.

Matsqui is a former District Municipality in British Columbia, Canada. It was incorporated in 1892, and merged with the District Municipality of Abbotsford in 1995 to create the new City of Abbotsford. Matsqui used to be the west part of what is now Abbotsford. It had commercial growth in the Clearbrook area which then spilled over to Abbotsford.

Qayqayt First Nation

The Qayqayt First Nation (qiqéyt), also known as the New Westminster Indian Band, is a band government located at New Westminster, British Columbia. The New Westminster Indian Band - Qayqayt First Nation is recognized by all levels of government, as well as the Assembly of First Nations where they hold delegate status. The Qayqayt First Nation historically spoke the Downriver Dialect of Halkomelem called hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓, a Coast Salish language. The Qayqayt First Nation is one of the smallest First Nations in Canada and the only one registered without a land base.

The Tsawwaseen Indian Reserve is the sole Indian reserve of the Tsawwassen First Nation, and is located in Delta, British Columbia, Canada, adjacent to the causeway of the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, bounded on the south by the Canada–United States border and on the north by Canoe Pass, an arm of the Fraser River. The band operates a park-and-ride for ferry customers, and also has a residential development housing non-natives called Tsatsu Shores just south of the causeway. The Tsawwassen lands, which were extinguished as an Indian Reserve and are now fee-simple land holdings since the Tsawwassen Treaty, effective April 3, 2009, are 272.6 ha. in area.

Brownsville was a former community in what is now the City of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Also known as South Westminster, it was located where the city ran a small ferry across the Fraser River, today approximately where the east footing of the Skytrain bridge is, this was also the former site of qiqéyt, one of the main summer villages of the Kwantlen people and later, also the Musqueam people

Hwlitsum First Nation

The Hwlitsum First Nation is an organization representing the group historically known as the Lamalchi or Lamalcha but properly called Hwlitsum. The Hwlitsum are the descendants of the Lamalchi people and changed their name to Hwlitsum when they moved to Hwlitsum in 1892. Hul'qumi'num custom names groups based on the location of their winter village. Changing location of their winter village changed the name of the people. The Hwlitsum are a Hulquminum-speaking people whose home region is in the Southern Gulf Islands. The Hwlitsum were never granted reserves or band status and are currently seeking recognition as a band government from the governments of British Columbia and Canada.


  1. "Factbook" (PDF). Tsawwassen First Nation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-07-08. Retrieved 2007-07-06. We are the people of the Tsawwassen First Nation. Our 290-hectare (717 acre) reserve is located at Roberts Bank in Delta, on the southern Strait of Georgia near the Canada – U.S. border.
  2. Branch, Government of Canada; Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada; Communications. "Tsawwassen Final Agreement: General Overview". www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  3. Mickleburgh, Rod (July 26, 2007). "Tsawwassen band backs historic urban treaty". The Globe and Mail . Retrieved October 24, 2016.
  4. "TFN History and Timeline | Tsawwassen First Nation". tsawwassenfirstnation.com. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
  5. "TFN Vision & Mandate | Tsawwassen First Nation". tsawwassenfirstnation.com. Retrieved 2018-08-18.
  6. "Tsawwassen First Nation votes for mega-mall". The Globe and Mail . January 19, 2012. Retrieved October 24, 2016.