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Upgrades to Maplewood Flats will strengthen connections with Tsleil-Waututh Nation culture

Over $217K worth of funding will go towards new education facilities at the conservation area
North Vancouver's Maplewood Flats Conservation Area is to be revitalized with new facilities. | Wild Bird Trust of B.C.

North Vancouver’s Maplewood Flats is in line to receive a $217,775 grant, as part of a revitalization project that aims to better connect locals with nature and Tsleil-Waututh culture.

The 126-acre conservation area, one of 49 not-for-profits to benefit from the Community Gaming Grants program’s $5.3 million funding, is the site of an ancestral village as well as a place of deep connection and history for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

“The area of Maplewood Flats has been culturally and ecologically important to Tsleil-Waututh people since time immemorial,” said Susie Chant, MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour.

“These new facilities will help restore these connections and allow more people to enjoy and engage with this unique site.”

The Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia will funnel the funds into a number of facilities to encourage education, including two new outdoor classrooms and work spaces and six interpretive panels.

The conservation area will also be kitted out with a Coast Salish Demonstration Garden, a harvest table and an innovation studio, to join the area’s heritage award-winning Coast Salish plant garden.

A sought-after spot for nature lovers and bird watchers, Maplewood Flats is home to more than 80 native plant species and 251 bird species.

The mudflats themselves contain fish, shellfish, waterfowl and other resources that have provided food security for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, whose community and village site lie opposite.

Gabriel George, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s director of treaty, lands and resources, said the funds being offered to rejuvenate the conservation area is “a healthy step” on the journey to reconciling the harms of colonisation.

“Our current Tsleil-Waututh reserve is on a village site that was called ‘A Bay at the Base of a Mountain’ by our ancestors,” he said. “The western half of this village site is the land known as the Maplewood Flats.”

The Tsleil-Waututh had many village sites in and around Burrard Inlet and Indian Arm, and this is the only site they currently live on, said George.

“There were attempts to erase our presence in our homelands, so this grant is helping us to become visible again on our territory.”

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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