Tsleil-Waututh Nation School given traditional name in First Nations

Jun 21 2021, 5:56 pm

A traditional naming ceremony took place last week for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN) School in North Vancouver.

TWN’s mission is to foster a community of learners where every student feels safe and can develop their First Nations language and heritage, which will “equip them to realize their full potential.”

The ceremony bestowed a traditional name in First Nations language onto their school.

“The naming of the school is very significant because to receive a name is a very high honour, and as an individual when you carry a name it means you’ve been claimed by a family,” said Angela George, director of community development at the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, in an interview with Daily Hive.

“You hold the integrity of whatever that name means and you start to walk with that name and upholds the values and attributes of that name,” she said.

The TWN school was blessed with the name “siʔáḿθɘt,” pronounced “si-om-phet.”

The name means someone who is rich in knowledge and specific skills — but also someone who is generous with that knowledge and those skills by sharing and teaching them to others.

“It was very moving … it was something that gives every one of us as staff and students of the school great pride that we’ve accomplished this and we’re being bestowed a traditional name”

Courtesy of Tsleil-Waututh Nation

TWN School just expanded due to COVID from only high school to kindergarten through grade 12. They are also exploring mixing preschool with kindergarten.

Through education, they are reconnecting to their ancient knowledge and ancestral wisdom.

George described the process as “healing,” and said by weaving together traditional methods, and current best practices, TWN School is providing the best education for their children through project-based and land-based learning.

“It’s important for us to restore our ways of knowing and our ways of teaching … that’s a big part of what our school philosophy is  — upholding the laws of our nation,” she said.

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