Bowen Island Public Library is located on Nex̱wlélex̱wm, the traditional, unceded territory of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation).
On this page you’ll find information about the Squamish name for this island, Nex̱wlélex̱wm, and the name sign created, installed, and blessed in 2020.
Building a Mighty Bridge
This is a short documentary of the ceremony, the sign, and how it came to be.
Full Ceremony Video
Read the video description notes below the video on Youtube for an understanding of the ceremony steps.
How to Pronounce Nex̱wlélex̱wm
Video on how to pronounce Nex̱wlélex̱wm, produced by Khelsilem, Squamish Language Instructor and founder of KwiAwtStelmexw.com
About the Nex̱wlélex̱wm Sign Blessing Ceremony
On June 21, 2020, in Coast Salish tradition, the Bowen/Nex̱wlélex̱wm Family (Elizabeth Bowker, Pauline Le Bel, Brenda Morrison and Jami Scheffer) invited the Squamish Nation Family (Alroy “Bucky” Baker K’etximtn, Stewart Sempúlyan Gonzales, Mary Capilano, and Dennis Joseph) to bless our new sign –Nex̱wlélex̱wm, the ancestral name for Bowen Island – and to honour the carver, Coral Louie.
The ceremony serves to separate the carver from the sign, which now belongs to the community, who is now responsible to care for “this beautiful spirit” as described by Bucky. “Language and words are important,” said Pauline Le Bel in her words of gratitude. “They shape our actions, our future. This sign is now part of our present, shaping our future.”
Six witnesses were called (Chris Corrigan, Mayor Gary Ander, Susan Munro, Rob Gloor, Michael Yahgulanaas and MP Patrick Weiler). The role of the witness is to speak from the heart and to take back to their people what the ceremony means to their community.
The sign blessing ceremony was presented by Knowing Our Place, a reconciliation initiative begun three years ago by Pauline Le Bel with dedicated support from the Bowen Island Arts Council and the Bowen Island Public Library. The goal is to foster mutually-enhancing relationships between Squamish Nation and islanders.
“A healing journey has begun,” said Dennis Joseph, Squamish Nation Elder and Knowledge Keeper. “We are no longer strangers. By sharing our ancestral name, our ancestors will know you from this day forward… A mighty bridge is being built.”
Photos by Len Gilday. Click on photos to view larger sizes.