Musqueam Names at tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ

Picture of three houses at tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ (The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater) on Student Union Boulevard
Photo credit: Suzanne Rushton

In spring 2021, the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nation generously gifted the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-language name for UBC’s newest residence, tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ (The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater).

Along with the residence name, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm also gifted the five house names:

  • q̓əlɬaləməcən leləm̓ (Orca House)
  • qʷta:yθən leləm̓ (Sturgeon House)
  • sɬewət̕ leləm̓ (Herring House)
  • təməs leləm̓ (Sea Otter House)
  • sqimək̓ʷ leləm̓ (Octopus House)

tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ is the first full residence area at UBC that features a gifted hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-language name. Musqueam previously gifted the house names həm̓ləsəm̓ (2011), q̓ələχən (2011) and c̓əsnaʔəm (2017) for use at Totem Park Residence.

In September 2021, q̓əlɬaləməcən leləm̓ and qʷta:yθən leləm̓ opened, with sɬewət̕ leləm̓ opening in January 2022 and təməs leləm̓ and sqimək̓ʷ leləm̓ opening in April 2022.

On Tuesday, June 7, 2022, Musqueam and UBC held the naming and opening ceremony for tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ, to celebrate the residence and honour the house names gifted by Musqueam.

This new residence area, located along Student Union Boulevard and Wesbrook Mall, provides housing for nearly 750 students, plus additional residence swing space, hotel accommodations and a Tim Hortons, in a revitalized area of campus with Walter Gage, Brock Commons and Exchange residences.

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Learn more about the names

tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ

(The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater)

The marine animals, after which the houses at tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ are named, all reside in saltwater. Collectively, they convey themes of sustainability and biodiversity, along with individuality and cooperation.

The residence name is deliberately not simplified to prioritize communicating the complexity of the Musqueam language over ease of pronunciation.

Artwork by Kelly Cannell, Musqueam artist.

House names

Projects at tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ

Several important projects are now complete or underway at tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ to increase opportunities for student residents, hotel guests and the UBC Vancouver community to engage with Musqueam language and culture at tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ.

Glass walkway canopies

Musqueam artist Kelly Cannell was commissioned to produce artwork that corresponded with each of the house names. Kelly’s designs, featured above, were integrated into three glass canopies, two which cover the walkway between tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ and the Walter Gage Commonsblock. The third covers a small plaza at the west end of qʷta:yθən leləm̓. The last of the canopies was installed in winter 2022.

Storytelling boards

Work is currently underway with Musqueam on a series of storytelling boards that will be permanently installed in the lobby areas of each building. These boards will provide important information, details, traditional stories, and visual elements about Musqueam’s relationship with the marine animals for which the buildings are named.

Plant signage

A number of plants with cultural significance for xʷməθkʷəy̓əm were planted at tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ and signage is now installed to provide the UBC community with information about each one. Learn more at Musqueam plants.

It is an honour to receive these naming gifts and it is rewarding to be able to provide our residents with this valuable cultural knowledge through the names and the unique design elements. – Andrew Parr, Associate Vice-President, UBC Student Housing and Community Services

Our commitment to using hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓

The expectation of the Musqueam Language department is to have the names represented in their full form, not shortened or abbreviated in any way. By committing to this expectation, UBC Student Housing and Community Services expresses its commitment to Indigenous peoples, and Musqueam people specifically, in following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action and adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

SHCS is committed to upholding the integrity of each name’s meaning by using them fully and properly when referring to this residence and its five buildings – and by bringing awareness and education to student residents, the campus community, visitors, and UBC and SHCS staff.


In recent years, UBC has strengthened its partnership with our host, the Musqueam Nation, including the historic Memorandum of Affiliation, signed in 2006. Student Housing and Community Services (SHCS) has been one of the units on campus to foster its own unique initiatives with Musqueam, including several naming and storytelling initiatives in residence.

In 2011, Musqueam gifted the names həm̓ləsəm̓ and q̓ələχən, and in 2017, the name c̓əsnaʔəm for use as house names at Totem Park Residence. These place names connect our student housing residents and the campus community to the land they reside on and the language of the Musqueam people, hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓.

In 2019, storytelling displays were installed throughout Totem Park to provide residents with an opportunity to learn about their place, its relationship to Musqueam, and Totem Park’s evolving history of using house names to recognize Indigenous communities – in particular the names of the six original houses (Kwakiutl, Shuswap, Nootka, Dene, Haida, Salish) and the residence itself, which were named in the 1960s without appropriate community consultation.

Following the opening of c̓əsnaʔəm, Musqueam and Student Housing and Community Services continued to meet and discuss storytelling and naming opportunities at the new residence area, originally known as Pacific residence. First, the five houses were gifted their current hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ names; but it was mutually agreed that a hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-language name for the residence area would be a better fit. Shortly thereafter, Musqueam gifted the current name: tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ.

Learn more


Learn more about the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language:

tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ

Learn more about tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ (The Houses of the Ones Belonging to Saltwater) student residence.

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm plants

Explore the culturally-significant plants at tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ.

Names at Totem Park

Learn more about the names at Totem Park, where Musqueam gifted the names of three residence houses: c̓əsnaʔəm (2017), həm̓ləsəm̓ (2011) and q̓ələχən (2011).