About Us - First Nations Territorial Acknowledgement

First Nations Territorial Acknowledgement


New Westminster Schools recognizes and acknowledges the Qayqayt First Nation, as well as all Coast Salish peoples, on whose traditional and unceded territories we live, we learn, we play and we do our work.

Acknowledging Traditional Territory as a Sign of Respect

The Board of Education of New Westminster Schools believes that acknowledging Traditional Territory is a way to honour and show respect to the original inhabitants of this land.

This practice enables the wider school and district community to share in Aboriginal cultures, and leads to better relationships and understandings.

Observing this practice connects participants with the traditional territory, and provides a welcoming atmosphere to the land where people are gathering.

About the Qayqayt First Nation

Chief Rhonda Larrabee of the Qayqayt First Nation in New Westminster is a passionate believer in education, offers a traditional welcome at many of New Westminster School functions, and often shares her story with the school children of New Westminster.

In the 19th century, a village alongside of what is now Front Street in New Westminster was called Qayqayt (pronounced Ka-kite). In 1859, New Westminster City Council sought to remove the First Peoples from the city core, creating three reserves in the surrounding area, including 27 acres of Poplar Island and 105 acres across the Fraser River at Bridgeview.

A smallpox epidemic killed many First Peoples in 1904; in 1916, the McKenna McBride Commission closed the New Westminster Indian Reserve and told the residents to move. Many reserves in British Columbia were being closed at this time, most without compensation or alternative lands to help them move. Qayqayt from New Westminster were married into or adopted into other Nations, relocating to Musqueam, Squamish, and Washington State. The story of the Qayqayt was almost forgotten.

Chief Larrabee’s mother, aunt and uncle were the last few living members of the Qayqayt First Nation, which once numbered 400 people before their lands were sold and their remaining reserve was deemed inactive in 1951. Chief Larrabee’s journey of self-discovery led her to apply for Indian Status in 1994, resurrect the Qayqayt Band, become chief, and work to keep the legacy of her ancestors alive through education. Her story is captured in the award winning National Film Board of Canada documentary “A Tribe of One.”

Sharing her story with the school children of New Westminster continues to have a major impact.

The New Westminster School District is proud to have a partnership with Chief Larrabee and her band. Chief Larrabee is a member of the New Westminster Aboriginal Education Advisory Committee.

(Adapted from “A History of the New Westminster Indian Band”, 2004).

News & Announcements

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School Spirit starts here: Qayqayt lights some fireworks!

School Spirit starts here: Qayqayt lights some fireworks!

The whole school was in on it - and the result was Fireworks! École Qayqayt Elementary School launched a school wide “Lip Dub” video of every student singing that is as fun to watch as it clearly was to make... more

A Rotary Gift of Literacy for Fraser River Middle School

A Rotary Gift of Literacy for Fraser River Middle School

It is a big help if you are a brand new school starting up a brand new “Learning Commons” to receive a $5,000 gift in support of literacy.... more

NWSS students launch clubs for fun, justice, science, and the planet…

NWSS students launch clubs for fun, justice, science, and the planet…

October 2016 - Student leaders at New Westminster Secondary School this year launched the largest number of clubs at the high school yet - a record-breaking 51 clubs that run the gamut from peace and justice, to math and STEM clubs, to jewelry making and Lego building... more