Indiegenous man standing in front of traditional motiff

North Vancouver school given traditional, Tsleil-Waututh name

By Mina Kerr-Lazenby, North Shore News, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Seycove Secondary, a high school in North Vancouver’s Deep Cove neighbourhood, has been gifted a new name of Seycove at sə́yəmətən by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. 

Pronounced say-əm-me-ton, the name translates to ‘a good place of water’ in the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language, and is the name of the original Indigenous village at Strathcona.

Tsleil-Waututh Nation councillor Kevin O’Neill said the name is “fitting” as it reflects the traditional village and its meaning of “a place of calm water, a place that provided shelter and solace during stormy weather for our people when they travelled through the Indian Arm.”

O’Neill said he hopes the school reflects the name and continues to be a safe, calm environment for learning. 

“I also hope that all Indigenous students feel welcomed when they enter the doors, and that the non-Indigenous students can learn more about the importance of land acknowledgements, so they know whose unceded, ancestral, and traditional land they live, work, and play on,” he said. 

The renaming process had begun back in 2021, when retired principal Rob McLeod and Indigenous support teacher Andrea Yeo met with both Tsleil-Waututh director of treaty land and resources Gabriel George, and cultural program manager William George Thomas, to discuss the possibility of changing its moniker to something better suited to the school. 

It wasn’t until June this year when it was fully implemented, following a traditional naming ceremony at the school’s library that had staff, students and Tsleil-Waututh members present. 

Gabriel George said the renaming is an example of how the North Vancouver School District is starting to recognize that it operates on the traditional territory of Tsleil-Waututh people.

“It is a step in the right direction and we hope that we can build upon this work so that we are more strongly represented through the school district,” he said. 

“Hopefully, by putting the original place name back onto a public space with so many people walking through its doors over the years, it’ll remind people that not only are they on District of North Vancouver lands, but they are walking on the ancient lands of our Tsleil-Waututh people,” he said.

“Part of colonization is erasure, and this is a step towards putting us back where we belong.”

Top image credit: Tsleil-Waututh Nation director of treaty land and resources Gabriel George was a driving force behind the name change. – photo courtesy North Vancouver School District

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