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About The W̱SÁNEĆ people

"Our people lived as part of everything. We were so much a part of nature, we were just like the birds, the animals, the fish. We were like the mountains. Our people lived that way. We knew there was an intelligence, a strength, a power, far beyond ourselves. We knew that everything here didn't just happen by accident. We believed there was a reason for it being here. There was a force, a strength, a power somewhere that was responsible for it. That is the way our people lived. They lived according to that belief, according to that knowledge. The universe lies before you..." David Elliott Sr. (Saltwater People, School District 63 (Saanich, 1990)

Welcome to the W̱SÁNEĆ community portal. We are Straits Salish People, also known as the "salt water people" because we lived from the bounty of the ocean and the land. Our summer homes were among the protected bays and inlets of the Gulf Islands and San Juan Islands. Our winter homes were in W̱SÁNEĆ, meaning "emerging land", or "emerging people" since the time of the great flood. Our name, W̱SÁNEĆ, was anglicized to "Saanich" when the white people arrived in our territory. Today the W̱SÁNEĆ live on four small reserves at the location of our winter village sites. The language of the W̱SÁNEĆ People is SENĆOŦEN, taught at ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱ Tribal School. We invite you to learn SENĆOŦEN, the first language of this land.

SṈITȻEȽ-The home of the Blue Grouse
Written by STOLȻEȽ (John Elliott)
Blue Grouse was very plentiful at one time here in W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) territory, and it was most plentiful at SṈITȻEȽ (known as Tod Inlet today). Our Saanich ancestors could go out to gather the Blue Grouse just with a basket and a stick; because there was so many that they had become tame and wouldn’t even fly away. Plentiful amount of Blue Grouse is a sign of a healthy environment. SṈITȻEȽ is very important because of its location. Protected from all winds, the water is calm even throughout the winter and bad weather season. SṈITȻEȽ became the doorway to the winter deer hunting grounds at W̱MÍYEŦEṈ (known as McKenzie Bay and Mt. Work area today). The shores at SṈITȻEȽ are calm and steep; harvesting can be done even on a small tide. Spring salmon return to the small stream W̱EĆEĆE (little awakener) at the head of the inlet. W̱SÁNEĆ people trolled to SṈITȻEȽ by canoe for fresh food in the winter months. If you ever have the opportunity to go to SṈITȻEȽ by canoe or boat, do it. It has a way of closing in on you as you enter this nice little inlet, it’s a special feeling. This place was also a special training ground for young warriors. SṈITȻEȽ is one of the oldest Saanich village sites. It is the original village site and it is protected by the Douglas Treaty.

The SENĆOŦEN app is a media-rich bilingual dictionary and phrase collection comprised of words and phrases archived at the online Aboriginal language database
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British Columbia

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