shíshálh Nation | Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada

shíshálh Nation | Our History, Heritage & Territory

shíshálh - Sechelt First Nation

The shíshálh Nation, located on BC's scenic West Coast is proud of our heritage and community values. Our spectacular scenery and natural resoures in the territory have sustained our people and way of life for centuries. We thrive on a communal lifestyle that respects the wisdom of our elders.

Chief and Council

Click here to meet the Chief and our Councillors.

Our Vision

To achieve self-reliance and independence for the shíshálh Nation we recognized that our collective success depends on knowing our history, understanding our present circumstances and charting a path that leads towards a healthy and prosperous future.

In 1986 the shíshálh Nation became an independent self-governing body . . . a unique third order of the government of Canada. The Sechelt Indian Government District holds jurisdiction over its lands and exercises the authority to provide services and education for its residents.

Territory Description

The shíshálh territory has always been defined by natural landmarks from the named mountain tops down through their valleys, brooks, steams, rivers and lakes to the coastal shores, inlets and open waters forming the regional watersheds. Those territories include the entire area draining into lilkw' émin (Agamemnon Channel) swiwelát (Princess Louisa Inlet)?álhtulich (Sechelt Inlet), stl'ixwim (Narrows Inlet), skúpa (Salmon Inlet), smit (Hotham Sound), and part of sínku (the open waters of Malaspina Strait and Georgia Strait) including the southern half of slháltikan (Texada Island) and chichxwalish (Sabine Channel).


The name shishálh, from the language of sháshishálem, refers to the entire population descended from the four sub-groups that officially amalgamated in 1925. They include xénichen at the head of Jervis Inlet), ts 'únay (at Deserted Bay), téwánkw ( in Sechelt, Salmon and Narrow Inlets), and sxixus.

However you travel, you'll know you have arrived when you see the massive sloping roof of the House of héwhíwus (House of Chiefs) complex and the Raven's Cry Theatre. The raven, a mischievous bird in shíshálh folklore, is a gatherer and collector of stories. This storytelling house of the raven features plays, concerts recitals and big screen movies nightly.

Visitors are invited to attend cultural events throughout the year, hosted by our community.

The tems swiya museum welcomes you to a journey encompassing the shíshálh land, history and culture. Stop by the tsain-ko gift shop and take home a reminder of your visit to Sechelt.

The newly built long house represents a proud return to age-old celebrations and gatherings. The shíshálh tl'e enak-awxw (Feast House), a joint project with the Sechelt Indian Band, the Federal Government and the First People's Cultural Foundation, celebrated its grand opening in October 1996. This celebration also marked the Sechelt Indian Band's 10th Anniversary of Self Government. A totem pole was raised to represent the people from xénichen (Hunaechin). The other poles raised represent the people from t'sunay (Deserted Bay), téwánkw (in Sechelt, Salmon and Narrows Inlets), and sxixus (Pender Harbour). A fifth and final pole placed in the middle represents the shíshálh as it exists today. It is located in the centre of the other four marking the amalgamation of the Band.

Shíshálh Nation Vision Statement

We, the shíshálh People, were put here by the Creator as keepers of our waters and Lands. We have lived in our territory according to our own laws and systems of government since time immemorial and will continue to do so forever. We will give back to the earth the respect and sanctity it rightfully deserves. We will honour our lands, waters and air as our ancestors have taught us. We know how the environment used to be and we will work to rehabilitate our territory´s natural resources to what they once were.

Our Vision for the Future of Our Territory

Our cultural practices and customs, including those related to the use of land, waters and resources, will be revered and will be handed down from our ancestors through our Elders and youth with respect. We will preserve sháshíshálem (our shíshálh language) and continue to promote its use and our cultural ways so that they continue as they have been for countless generations.

Our leaders will continue to be guided by our cultural values and by the wishes of our community, who will be fully engaged in planning and management for our future.

Our people will welcome opportunities to accept new ideas and innovations that can assist us in managing our territory and resources on a sustainable basis. We will anticipate changes to our territory and adjust to new challenges, such as climate change.

Our members will be active throughout the territory and continue to access all areas for economic, subsistence, cultural or other needs. In this way we will maintain our connection to the land and waters of our territory, and all that it symbolizes for our people. We will resettle some of the village sites that were in place before Europeans arrived.

Key areas of our territory will be protected from development, to preserve areas of cultural importance so that our land and waters can continue to support healthy populations of wildlife and we ourselves as a people that depend on them for our way of life. The natural ecosystem processes that have occurred over thousands of years in our territory will continue unimpeded.

We will adopt ecosystem based management approaches that reflect our understanding of the connection among all things, and the need for planning over extended timeframes and at multiple scales.

Our decisions regarding land and resources will continue to reflect our humility and connection to all things, and our commitment to sustainability for current and future generations. Our decisions and actions will make clear that our interest in resource development is not driven by simple economics, but by sustainability for all people that choose to make our territory their home.

We will secure greater authority over the management of land, water and resources within our territory. Land within our territory will no longer be alienated from us, and we will secure compensation for resources that have been removed without our consent. Over-harvesting and destructive resource extraction will cease.

We will achieve greater self-sufficiency as a people, and will sustain ourselves with more of our materials and energy so that we can thrive within our territory and reduce our dependence on others for our well-being.

Our communities will be safe, secure and healthy. Our young people will achieve health and educational standards that compare favourably with the rest of Canada.

We will establish cooperative relationships with those who have chosen to make our territory their home, and with commercial and industrial interests that operate within out borders.

Sustainable Industry and commerce will thrive in our territory, and operate in a manner that assures the long-term health of the land, resources and our people as well as the economic well-being of our people.

Guiding Principles for Planning & Management of Land and Resources

Guidance of Ancestors and Elders: All shíshálh Nation land use planning and resource management activities shall be undertaken in a manner that is consistent with the teachings taught to us by our Ancestors and Elders.

Respect: shíshálh Nation use and management of the land shall always reflect our deepest respect for the land and the interconnectedness of all things.

Sustainability: shíshálh Nation use and management of resources shall be guided by our commitment to sustainability both in the present and for all generations to come-which means maintaining diverse and abundant wildlife and ecosystems in perpetuity while providing for diverse cultural, social and economic activities that support a balanced, healthy, secure and sustainable quality of life.

Self-Reliance: Our use and management of land and resources shall seek to increase the self-reliance of the shíshálh Nation, so that we can support our own communities and others that have chosen to make our territory their home over the long term.

Cultural Practices: shíshálh Nation planning, use and management activities shall ensure that access is maintained for our people so that our cultural practices can continue unimpeded throughout our territory.

Cultural Sites: Sites of our past, current and future use and occupation of the territory shall be respected and preserved.

Ecosystem-Based Approach: Management of our shíshálh Nation territory shall adopt a holistic, ecosystem-based approach that considers the entire ecosystem in determining use of specific areas and setting harvest rates that focus on what to leave behind, rather than what to take.

Capacity Building: We shall strive to provide opportunities for members of the shíshálh Nation, particularly the youth, to build their skills and experience in management of lands and resources, so that they and all future generations continue to act as stewards of our territory.

Knowledge: shíshálh Nation planning and management approaches for land and resources shall incorporate both our own cultural and local knowledge as well as western science-based understandings.

Space and Time: shíshálh Nation planning and management approaches shall take into account multiple spatial scales and time frames, and seek to maintain or increase resilience in the face of critical and long-term issues such as climate change.

Precaution: A precautionary approach shall be adopted for land planning and management, so that decisions err on the side of caution when information is limited.

Consent: Development of land and resources shall only proceed when the risks of impacts on our territory are well understood and accepted by the shíshálh Nation.

Benefits: The shíshálh Nation shall benefit fairly from development and use of land and resources within our territory.

Monitoring: The condition of the land and resources across shíshálh Nation territory shall be monitored, and knowledge of trends and responses to change shall be incorporated into future decision-making through adaptive management.

This information is provided for the use and benefit of Sechelt Nation members only, and was prepared to provide Sechelt Nation members with access to general overview information concerning Sechelt Nation traditional uses and land and marine use planning initiatives. This information is not intended, and cannot be relied on, as representing all information and evidence regarding Sechelt Nation Aboriginal title and rights within Sechelt Territory. This information cannot be used or relied on by any third party (government, company, municipality or individual) without the informed consent and further input of the Sechelt Nation.

My Toolkit

Recently Aired on TV

Healing The Future

Episode: 203 Date: 2016-02-15

voices of shíshálh