First Nations and the Bog

Learn more about who cared for and lived from this land before it became known as Burns Bog.

Burns Bog is the traditional, unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the Stó:lō, Katzie, Kwantlen, Semiahmoo, Tsawwassen and Musqueam First Nations. Coast Salish Peoples have been stewards of this land since time immemorial, with distinct cultures and customs encompassing many of the Bog’s diverse flora and fauna. In fact, much of what is considered “modern” or colonial knowledge actually stems from traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), or Indigenous practices and understandings of this land.

Burns Bog was historically used by these First Nations as land to forage and hunt. The coastal wetland had ideal conditions to host a wealth of biodiversity. Species hunted include black bears, black-tailed deer, elks, and ducks, while foraging consisted of berries such as blueberry, cranberry, thimbleberry, and salmonberry. Although Burns Bog has changed drastically since European settlement, development, and resource extraction, some Coast Salish Peoples still come to gather certain leaves or berries for specific ceremonies or seasonal events.

Below are some other key species that are culturally significant to the Coast Salish Nations:

Sphagnum Moss

The Indigenous Peoples discovered it was super absorbent, and produced tannic acid, which has antiseptic properties. This meant that it could be used as feminine hygiene products and to line diapers, as well as a bandage for wounds.

Western Red Cedar

From which strips of bark and root fibers can be woven into hats, baskets, clothing, or rope, the evergreen boughs piled into bedding or cushions, and the trunks carved into dugout canoes and totem poles. Cedar wood planks can also be used to make ceremonial masks and boxes, and for cooking or smoking salmon.

Salal

From which the dark, tart berries can be squeezed and pressed into dry cakes that can be kept for long periods of time without spoiling, and from which the leaves could be chewed to curb hunger, as they contain a carbohydrate called pectin.

Salmon

A food staple and keystone species. This means that they provide an indication of the overall health and productivity of an ecosystem, as they depend on and are depended on by many other species in a food web. While salmon are not known to exist in true bogs, they do hatch and spawn in Lower Cougar Creek, which runs along the perimeter of the Delta Nature Reserve in the Bog’s lagg zone. Cougar Creek is a tributary of the Fraser River, the largest salmon-bearing freshwater body in B.C.

For more information on First Nations plant use and TEK, visit our Plants of the Bog page, or join us for a Public or Private Tour in the Delta Nature Reserve.

To learn more about these Coast Salish Peoples and other First Nations in B.C., including languages spoken, governance systems, and treaty negotiations, visit the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations website.