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News

Wednesday, March 10, 2021 — The Riverview Lands have been renamed səmiq̓wəʔelə (pronounced Suh-MEE-kwuh-EL-uh), in recognition and respect of the Kwikwetlem First Nation’s (kʷikʷəƛ̓əm) historical and cultural ties to its ancestral land.

kʷikʷəƛ̓əm asserts Indigenous rights and title to səmiq̓wəʔelə as part of its core traditional territory.   

“The name səmiq̓ʷəʔelə means ‘The Place of the Great Blue Heron’ in our traditional hən̓q̓əmin̓əm language,” said Chief Ed Hall, kʷikʷəƛ̓əm First Nation. “This name was given by the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm people based on memories of how the land was once widely used as roosting ground for the great blue heron due to its proximity to what was then the floodplain of the Coquitlam River.

“The renaming of Riverview to səmiq̓ʷəʔelə is very significant to our nation’s overall goal of reclaiming and revitalizing our culture and traditional language. The kʷikʷəƛ̓əm people and Nation look forward to reconnecting with these lands – lands which are on our core, ancestral and unceded territory – by being a meaningful partner with BC Housing in the master planning process and by sharing with the rest of the public our rich history and culture.”

In partnership, the Province (through BC Housing) and kʷikʷəƛ̓əm are launching the master planning phase to develop a concrete plan for the site’s redevelopment. This will include engagement with the public and key stakeholders in 2021. The kʷikʷəƛ̓əm Nation will also conduct an extensive community engagement with its membership during this time. The feedback from both engagements will be incorporated into səmiq̓wəʔelə’s master plan. 


“The renaming of the site honours the Kwikwetlem First Nation’s ties to this land,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing. “While the site is being used to provide healing services for people, it has the potential to touch many more lives through delivery of more mental health services, recognition and preservation of natural features, opening safe and affordable housing and developing a complete community. We look forward to working with the Kwikwetlem First Nation to create a plan with the community for the site’s future.”

The hən̓q̓əmin̓əm language can already be seen at səmiq̓wəʔelə, which is home to new provincial programs supporting people with mental health and substance use needs. həy̓χʷət kʷθə šxʷhəliʔ leləm (Healing Spirit House) opened in 2019 and provides a range of direct residential and community mental health services for young people aged 12 to 17, including 38 beds. θəqiʔ ɫəwʔənəq leləm’ (Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addictions) will open in summer 2021, adding a further 105 beds to support people struggling with complex and severe mental illness and addiction. Overall, 289 mental health and substance use beds will be available by that time.

Quotes:

Selina Robinson, MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville –

“We know that many people in the community and across B.C. care deeply about the site’s future. We look forward to hearing from the public and working closely with Kwikwetlem First Nation members to develop a plan for the lands that we can all be proud of.”

Fin Donnelly, MLA for Coquitlam-Burke Mountain –

“Our government is honoured to work alongside the Kwikwetlem First Nation to redevelop this site to benefit British Columbians for years to come. I encourage everyone interested in the site’s future to engage with BC Housing during the master planning process.”

Learn More:

For an audio pronunciation of səmiq̓wəʔelə, visit:

http://soundcloud.com/bc-housing/riverview-kfn-language-translations-land-of-the-great-blue-heron.

For a list of topics that will be addressed during master planning, visit https://www.sumiqwuelu.com/project.

For information about the first public engagement session of master planning, scheduled for March 30, 2021, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Pacific time), visit: https://sumiqwuelu.eventbrite.ca.