Colony Farm Regional Park is getting a new name.
In a move that promises to honour the history of the Kwikwetlem First Nation, who have lived within the Coquitlam Lake watershed for thousands of years, the park will now be referred to as ƛ̓éxətəm Regional Park.
Metro Vancouver and the Kwikwetem First Nation announced the move on July 1.
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“The new name is made in honour of our Elders,” stated Kwikwetlem counicillor George Chaffee in a press release. “It is their courage, their leadership, and their stories of how the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm First Nation took care of these lands before colonization that has brought us to today.”
The name ƛ̓éxətəm — pronounced tla-hut-um — means “to be invited” in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓, the nation’s traditional language.
The name is also derived from an integral Coast Salish tradition.
In Coast Salish culture, guests were always taught to seek permission to enter other people’s territories, acknowledge their hosts, and treat welcome invitations with respect and gratitude.
“kʷikʷəƛ̓əm First Nation is also working to revitalize the use of our traditional hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language and culture in everyday life,” wrote Kwikwetlem councillor Stephanie Patterson in a statement.
“One way for us to share our rich history and ties to these lands is to welcome home hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ names for places across our territory, such as at ƛ̓éxətəm Regional Park which welcomes thousands of visitors each year.”
In a press release, Metro Vancouver wrote that they hoped the name change would replace a name that has been associated with the colonialism that took place in the region.
In the mid-1800s, members of the Kwikwetlem First Nation had their traditional territory whittled down to two reserves — slakəyánc (Coquitlam I.R. 1) and setɬamékmən (Coquitlam I.R 2) — on the banks of the Fraser and Coquitlam River.
By the early 1900s, the provincial government then bought 1,000 acres of land at the junction of those two rivers.
And between 1905 and 1910, over 180 hectares of the floodplain were drained and cleaned for the installation of dikes and farm buildings. Colony Farm park officially opened in 1910.
“Metro Vancouver is committed to continuing to develop and strengthen our relationship with kʷikʷəƛ̓əm First Nation — the renaming of the park is a significant milestone in the path we’re walking together,” announced George V. Harvie, Chair of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors.
The renaming of Colony Farm comes less than two years after Metro Vancouver renamed Belcarra Regional Park to honour the history of the Tsleil-Waututh nation in the area.
Belcarra was renamed to təmtəmíxʷtən in October 2021.
Signs will be replaced within the next year to highlight the new name at ƛ̓éxətəm Regional Park.
The Kwikwetlem First Nation also announced plans to develop signage and educational displays in the park to educate the public about the nation’s history and culture.
As part of the July 1 ceremony, Chaffee said that the renaming of Colony Farm is a positive first step in building a relationship with Metro Vancouver based on the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
“Our vision for the future is to be Stewards and Guardians of ƛ̓éxətəm Regional Park, as we once were, and to restore and protect it for future generations,” he said.
“Today marks the beginning of our journey in walking together in a good way.”