West Vancouver, B.C.— Chepximiya Siyam’ Chief Janice George of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) has honoured the West Vancouver Memorial Library’s community demonstration garden with a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh sníchim name: Swáy̓wi Temíxw.
The place-based word Swáy̓wi refers to the location of the garden and Temíxw means land, dirt, or earth.
In a traditional naming ceremony on October 4 led by Skwetsimeltxw Willard ‘Buddy’ Joseph, Chief Janice spoke in front of witnesses, Library staff, and community members. Xwemelch’stn Etsímxwawtxw Capilano Littlest Ones sang and offered a blessing, followed by a spiritual cleansing of the garden with cedar boughs.
Chief Janice says, “I am so honoured to have chosen the name for Swáy̓wi Temíxw. I chose the name to teach about Squamish Territory—we have so much oral history about our ancestors and land. It makes our children proud to hear it.”
The community demonstration garden takes up a portion of the Library’s rooftop parking lot. Its purpose is to educate the community about the personal and environmental benefits of gardening, growing your own food, native plant gardening, and sustainable living. From April to October, the parking lot closes to make more space for gathering and outdoor programs.
Swáy̓wi Temíxw includes a native plant garden, which was developed in collaboration with Charlene Seward of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation). “Our native plant garden represents an opportunity to create space for Indigenous foodways, plant medicines, and ways of knowing and being,” Seward says. “As we seek to walk meaningfully down the path of reconciliation, we acknowledge the need for the decolonization of our practices, policies, and relationships with each other and the land. This garden is an invitation to experience and honour Indigenous plants and rebuild your relationship with the land and original stewards of this territory.”
WVML Board Chair Alastair Nimmons participated in the naming ceremony as a witness. “The West Vancouver Memorial Library is incredibly honoured to have received this name from Chief Janice for our library’s community demonstration garden. As an open and welcoming public place that supports learning for adults and youth, our library continues to have an important role to play in building a shared community.”
Hear the Garden pronunciation here.
Skwetsimeltxw Willard ‘Buddy’ Joseph and Chepximiya Siyam’ Chief Janice George are acclaimed weavers who co-founded the L’hen Awtwx Weaving House to share the teachings and practice of traditional Coast Salish wool weaving. Janice is a hereditary chief, trained museum curator, and educator. Janice and Buddy are from prominent Squamish families and have numerous ceremonial and cultural responsibilities in their community. Chief Janice has served as cultural advisor to the Library since 2016.