Being T'Sou-ke

Being T'Sou-ke

SIIÁM TŦE NE SĆÁLEĆ (my dear respected friends and relatives).  I am Trena from T'Sou-ke.  We are a small nation that lives at the shores of the Salish Sea on Southern Vancouver Island near the town of Sooke in the heart of Coast Salish territory.  T'Sou-ke is one nation spread over two villages.  Siaosun is our second and largest village that hangs on rocky cliffs and beaches.  This is where my family has lived for thousands of years and remains to this day.  We have a culture and language that is beautiful and unique.  T'Sou-ke language is a dialect of Straits Salish.   

In our family we have a special way of teaching our children.  Granny Ida would bring her grandchildren down to Siaosun to help pick the tall grass that grows at the beach.  In English Siaosun translates to 'slanted down' referring to the physical features of the land of Siaosun.  Granny Ida taught my mother how to dry, dye and weave with the tall beach grass when she was very young.  Granny Ida would sing and speak to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in our language.  Granny Ida helped raise my mother and taught her what it is to be T'Sou-ke.  My mother recalls being a little girl and taking a field trip with her class to the beach in the little town of Sooke, B.C.  The teacher and children were in awe with my mother as she identified so many of the organisms at the beach both in English and T'Sou-ke.  She could explain which organisms were safe to eat and how to catch and prepare for a meal, or how to preserve for the winter months.  My mother Janet learned this from granny Ida the last fluent speaker of our language in my family.  Growing up I spent much of my time listening to granny Ida speak and sing in T'Sou-ke.  At times I lived with granny Ida and had the opportunity to hear T'Sou-ke language even more.  My favorite sound in the world was listening to granny speaking, laughing and singing in our language.  Here is a photo of granny Ida and I.

Ida Planes

Below is the voice of Ida Planes.

Ida Planes - Clip-2.mp3

Listening to Straits Salish and its dialects at Big House and on canoe trips with my family has influenced my understanding of our language.  Below is a video with my cousin, Chief Gordon Planes, speaking about T'Sou-ke history. 

​Below is a link to the T'Sou-ke Nation website and a map of Coast Salish territory.

​The word T'Sou-ke is the name of the Stickleback fish that live in the estuary of the river.  The two T'Sou-ke reserves are on 67 hectares (165 acres) around the Sooke Basin on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Most community members live on the southern 41-hectare reserve while the many administration offices are on the 26-acre reserve along the main road between Sooke and Victoria. The total registered T'Sou-ke population was 251 as of February 2013.  Chief Planes stated: "We used to live sustainably, and only took what we needed from the land. We need to get back to that." (taken from the T'Sou-ke Nation website: )

​Below is the report attached of the Final Report of the vision, plan and precise for this project that is the Final project for the Masters of Indigenous Language Revitalization at the University of Victoria.

File Name: Trena-Sutton-MILR-Final-Report-Oct-2015.pdf
File Size: 336 kb
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About Trena


Trena is a Coast Salish girl from T'Sou-ke Nation. She loves to paddle, drum, dance, enjoy seafood and go on adventures. Come have fun with Trena while she shares her cultural teachings and learns the T'Sou-ke language.