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PHOTOS: Belcarra Regional Park now called təmtəmíxʷtən after historical signing ceremony

New name for popular regional park acknowledges the long history of the Tsleil-Waututh. who used to have a winter camp in the area

One of the Tri-Cities’ biggest parks has a new name that links traditional Indigenous history with popular uses by the more than a million visitors who hike, picnic and kayak at the oceanside destination.

Belcarra Regional Park is now called təmtəmíxʷtən in the language of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

In a celebration honouring the name change Friday, Oct. 8, dignitaries from the Tsleil-Waututh, along with Metro Vancouver officials and other guests watched as paddlers made their way onto the shore and performers with the Children of Takaya sang and drummed.

There was an official signing to mark the name change, and recognize the Tsleil-Waututh people’s long association with the area.

The name təmtəmíxʷtən — pronounced Tum-tum-ee-hw-tun according to Metro Vancouver — translates to “the biggest place for all the people.” 

As described in the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language, the site is the largest of Tsleil-Waututh’s ancestral villages, and was primarily a winter village. 

“The name təmtəmíxʷtən/Belcarra Regional Park supports in telling the story of Tsleil-Waututh. It shows both our Tsleil-Waututh community and members of the general public the importance of acknowledging and honouring Tsleil-Waututh’s history on this land and in these waters since time out of mind,” said Tsleil-Waututh Nation Chief Jen Thomas.

According to Metro Vancouver, the regional park authority has been working with the Tsleil-Waututh on various projects since 2016, including recent plans for the Belcarra Picnic Area, which encompasses the location of təmtəmixʷtən. 

“Metro Vancouver is pleased to bring greater public awareness of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s historical and present-day connections to these lands,” said Sav Dhaliwal, chair of the Metro Vancouver board of directors. 

In February 2020, Tsleil-Waututh and Metro Vancouver signed the Belcarra Regional Park Cultural Planning and Co-operation Agreement, formalizing the ongoing collaboration between the two parties.

“The renaming of təmtəmíxʷtən/Belcarra Regional Park is another milestone in our ongoing work with Metro Vancouver,” said Ernie George, Tsleil-Waututh chief administration officer. 

“Over the coming months, we will work within our community to create signage for the park that includes artwork by a Tsleil-Waututh community member. Through our traditional name, language, and artwork being present in the park, Tsleil-Waututh is putting the face of our Nation back on the territory, demonstrating to our next generation the importance of being stewards of our lands and waters,” George further added.

Over the course of the next several months, all of the signage in the park will be changed to reflect the new name, təmtəmíxʷtən/Belcarra Regional Park.

An audio pronunciation guide can be found here.

Belcarra has seen a nearly 200 per cent surge in visitors since the pandemic to more than 1 million annually.