Kwantlen First Nation

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Kwantlen First Nation
Recognised regional languages Halkomelem, English
Ethnic groups Coast Salish
Government Band
• Chief
Marilyn Gabriel
• Estimate

Kwantlen First Nation is a First Nations band government in British Columbia, Canada, located primarily in Fort Langley.[1] The Kwantlen traditionally speak the Downriver dialect of Halkomelem,[2] one of the Salishan family of languages and are a member of the Sto:lo Tribal Council but generally operate as an independent nation.


Prior to European contact, the Kwantlen were one of the most populous aboriginal groups of the Lower Fraser. Kwantlen occupied many significant village sites throughout their territory, including settlements in current day New Westminster, Surrey, Langley, Maple Ridge, and Mission. According to anthropologist Charles Hill-Tout, the main village of the Kwantlen people was "Sqaiametl" in what is now known as New Westminster. Directly across the River on the Surrey side was the Summer fishing village known as Kikait. Another key area of Kwantlen territory is the Stave River valley that was and continues to be important for hunting, trapping, cedar bark stripping, fishing, and other cultural uses.[3] After European contact, the Kwantlen moved their main settlement upriver from New Westminster when Fort Langley was established in the 19th century, to control and maintain a trading advantage with the HBC in Fort Langley.

Throughout the 1800s and 1900s, the Kwantlen people were given the name "Langley Indian Band" by the Federal Government Department of Indian Affairs. In June 1994, Chief Marilyn Gabriel reclaimed the traditional name of Kwantlen for her people and community which was marked by a traditional ceremony. Kwantlen Polytechnic University was granted permission to use the Kwantlen Name by the late Grand Chief Joe Gabriel. The name "Kwantlen" means "Tireless Runner" in Halkomelem language.

Modern day[edit]

Kwantlen First Nation is a progressive community that is guided by the decisions of a formal Elders Advisory Committee that meets once a month. With this guidance, the community has seen rapid growth in the areas of cultural resurgence and economic development. Some examples of this cultural resurgence include the opening of a new Cultural Center, a renewed focus on learning Halkomelem, and the annual First Salmon Ceremony. Kwantlen is in the process of transitioning into the First Nations Land Management Act , which will give Kwantlen the ability to opt out of 34 lands-related sections of the Indian Act and write their own laws pertaining to the management of their reserve lands.

Economic growth within the community is primarily the result of Seyem' Qwantlen Business Group, comprising five limited partnerships and two non-profits wholly owned by the Kwantlen First Nation. These entities are:

  • Seyem' Qwantlen Business Management Ltd
  • Seyem' Qwantlen Development Ltd-LP
  • Seyem' Qwantlen Land Development Ltd-LP
  • Seyem' Qwantlen Resources Ltd-LP
  • Seyem' Qwantlen Construction
  • Seyem' Qwantlen Harbour Authority
  • Seyem' Qwantlen Arts and Cultural Society

Under these companies Seyem' Qwantlen runs a number of diverse businesses, including Lelem Arts and Cultural Cafe, Sxwimele Gift Shop, Licensed Security, and Coast Salish technologies.

In addition to these business ventures, Seyem' Qwantlen is also involved in a number of heritage and stewardship activities that brings awareness to the Kwantlen People, their rich culture, as well as local fisheries, wildlife and habitat.

Indian Reserves[edit]

The band administers six Indian Reserves:[4]

The band also shares the Peckquaylis Indian Reserve with 20 other bands. It is the former St. Mary's Indian Residential School just east of Mission and is now a cultural, government, and aboriginal business centre.


The band's population is 256.[5][6]


External links[edit]

Kwantlen nation

Further reading[edit]