Semiahmoo First Nation

Published on October 15, 2012 by Amy

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Semiahmoo First Nation
Semiahmoo First Nation

Semiahmoo First Nation is the band government of the Semiahmoo people, a Coast Salish subgroup. The band’s main community and offices are located on 312 acres (1.3 km2) of Indian Reserve just south of White Rock, British Columbia and near the Canada-United States boundary and Peace Arch Provincial Park.

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In 1790, Europeans estimated the Semiahmoo population at 300. By 1854, the band’s numbers were reduced to 250 due to smallpox and warfare. In 1909 there were 38 band members in British Columbia. In 1963, the number had reached 28 and then just 25 by 1971. Between 1996 and 2001, the reserve population dropped 34.5 per cent, from 200 people to 131.

The Semiahmoo remain one of the smallest First Nations in the region with about 74 band members, of which 40 live on Reserve. In fact, Semiahmoo has more non-Aboriginals living on its reserve than band members.

As of 2003, the median age of the Semiahmoo population is 42.5 years of age, higher than the average for all people living on Indian Reserves in Greater Vancouver (39.2 years of age).

Treaty negotiations
A June 2003 report for the Greater Vancouver Regional District indicated that the Semiahmoo First Nation is not affiliated with any tribal council and is not involved in treaty negotiations.

However, a 2007 newspaper article said that the Semiahmoo First Nation and three other First Nations (Tsartlip, Tsawout and Pauquachin) make up the Sencot’en Alliance, which says their traditional territory stretches south to the lower end of Puget Sound, including both the San Juan Islands and the Gulf Islands, across southern Vancouver Island to include sites north of the Canada/U.S. border, on the lower Fraser River and on all adjacent land.

Members of the Sencot’en Alliance also say they’re signatories to the Douglas Treaties, taken with the British Crown from 1850 to 1854, and are not involved with the current B.C. Treaty Commission negotiations.

In 2007, the Semiahmoo publicly expressed strong opposition to the failed Tsawwassen First Nation treaty, stating the agreement with the Delta first nation could infringe on the its territory and rights.

Relations with federal government
In 2003/04, the Semiahmoo received $243,500 in federal funding.

In 2006, the Semihamoo reserve was listed by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada as a high-priority community for drinking-water improvements. The Canadian government committed to assisting the Semiahmoo with its high-risk drinking water system.

Relations with Surrey, White Rock
School District 36 Surrey acknowledges that it operates in the Semiahmoo traditional territory.

The First Nation sponsors a powwow organized by students at Earl Marriott Secondary School in Surrey.

In 2009, the band removed a large and long-standing children’s play area located in an open park near the East beach area citing vandalism as the reason for removal. Removal of the remaining swings would follow soon after.

In 2010, the Semiahmoo First Nation erected a 6 foot high fence that extends east from the reservation and follows the length of their land to prohibit access by non-band members. In addition to restricting access to band land, this fence also prevents access to all East beach areas and certain areas of the Little Campbell river.

Aboriginal policing

The Surrey detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police provides policing service through the Surrey First Nation Policing Service to both the Semiahmoo First Nation and Tsawwassen First Nation under tripartite framework agreements.

The Provincial Auxiliary Constable Program has five Auxiliary Constables on the reserve.

The Semiahmoo First Nation uses an Apology Ceremony to deal with minor offences committed within the community. The offender must make an apology to the victim and those who have been affected. The offender provides a gift to the victims and prepares a meal. After the gift is presented a meal is provided that is prepared by the offender. The Chief and Council, Elders, and community members are involved in the ceremony.

Source: wikipedia Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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