The Seabird Island Band located in the Upper Fraser Valley, three kilometres northeast of Agassiz, British Columbia. Situated in the Fraser River with the Coast Mountain Range to the north and the Cascade Mountain Range to the south, the island is comprised of approximately 1618.7 hectares. Originally surveyed in 1879 as 4511 acres (1825.5 hectares), Seabird Island is bound by the Maria Slough and the Fraser River and has been subject to the erosion of its western shoreline from the Fraser.
The English designation of Seabird Island is derived from the June 1858 grounding of the transport paddle-wheeler Sea Bird, on an island bar in the Fraser River, across from Sq’éwqel. Halq’émeylēm for “turn in the river”, Sq’éwqel is referred to by Indian Reserve Commissioner (1878-1880) Gilbert M. Srpoat as Skow-a-kull in his allocation statement and accompanying sketch of Seabird Island.
Sq’éwqel identified a village located at the northern tip of what is now known as Seabird Island, across the river from Skw’atits or what is contemporarily known as Peters’ Reserve. In June 1879, through consultation with First Nations people, Sproat allocated the island called Skow-a-kull as a reserve to be held in-common by the people from Popkum, Skw’átits, Ohamil, Ska-wah-look, Hope, Union Bar and Yale.
The Island is rich in Archaeological history with twenty-two recorded sites located in and around the reserve lands. The sites range from pre-contact habitat features to surface and sub-surface lithic materials. Each year the cultivation and disturbance of soils brings to the surface lithic material churned from below. These sites reflect pre-contact cultural use and occupancy sustained over generations of First Nations people.
Since its inception as a reserve in-common in 1879, through its designation as an independent band in 1959, and into contemporary times, Seabird has been valued by First Nations and Non-First Nations alike for its rich, arable lands and ideal location within transportation corridors. While contemporary access routes include the highway and railway that traverse the Island, cultural corridors also extend from the island, including trails, river and watersheds. The extent and complexity of these cultural networks speak to the vast historic connections to the land, its resources, as well as to other groups of First Nations people.
Seabird Island encompasses 200 homes which house 700 residents. Our First Nations people are a mixture of both Stō:ló and Nlaka’pamux, and historically speak the Stō:ló dialect of Halq’émeylēm mixed with Nlaka’pamux.
The main population of Seabird Island is clustered around an impressive community centre which hosts a daycare, Pre-school, elementary school, high school, fire hall, health centre and Band offices, as well as multiple grass playing fields and other multi-purpose buildings. Many of the 200 homes are located in the community centre, with smaller sub-divisions on the outskirts of the community.