Long before Western European contact, our ancestors lived in the beautiful Ts’elxweyeqw (Chilliwack River Valley). Our ancestral homelands were at Sxotsaqel, a village at the head of Chilliwack Lake. Sxotsaqel means ‘sacred lake’ in Halq’eméylem language. We have a long history of moving down river and eventually settling at the mouth of the Old Chilliwack River (Skway I.R.#5).
Before settling along the Fraser River where we are today, our ancestors lived at a village called Sxwo:yxweyla, here in Chilliwack. When the people of this large village disbanded, the “big island” – Shxwhá:y (Skway Reserve) – was one of the locations where we eventually located. One of the great Stó:lō Chiefs, Harry Edwards, translated the meaning of Shxwhá:y: “a place where they made canoes”. This is our present village site at the outlet of Chilliwack River at its confluence with the Fraser.
It was mainly after the great floods of 1894 and 1948 that Shxwhá:y people began to move permanently away from their Village along the Fraser River, escaping a number of influences flooding, the indian residential school, unemployment, and in most instances choosing to live permanently south of the border.