“We know where we come from and we know who we are.”
The concept of bioregionalism, the expression of our people’s interaction and relationship with our physical surroundings over time, is something that informs all of our stewardship and community planning initiatives. The Tsleil-Waututh Nation, over time, has amassed incredible amounts of data though the processes of cultural research, treaty negotiation, and community development. This data tells our story, from the distant past right up to this moment. We needed to find a way to make this wealth of information, which might normally be used only by experts who have mastered computers and highly technical reports, accessible and available for use for everyone.
In order to achieve this, we decided to create a series of maps, made by the community for the community, that would serve as “living documents” and that could be changed at any time, as new information was gathered. We decided as a community that the best way to show this huge amount of information was in the form of large format maps, which could be combined to form atlases. These maps were created by our in-house Mapping and GIS office and include the collective body of biophysical and cultural knowledge of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Each map is annotated with text, charts and tables to elaborate on what is already demonstrated pictorially on the maps themselves. These maps then become a holistic source of information about our traditional territory.
The importance of these maps and the information they contain cannot be overstated. They are used as a visual representation of our ongoing relationship to the lands and waters of our territory. They are used as a foundation for our planning processes because they provide a complete context for our work ―towards our vision of caring for and restoring our territory to its prior state, to once again becoming active participants in decisions concerning our territory, and in teaching others what we know so that we can build relationships with newcomers to our Nation.