About Chinook Wawa

Chinook Wawa is a language that was used to communicate among the diverse communities of early British Columbia. Its vocabulary is drawn from several aboriginal languages as well as French and some English. It developed fully in Vancouver on the Columbia River when it was the capital of the British territory of Columbia. After the border treaty of 1846, Chinook Wawa use moved north and it was widely spoken throughout British Columbia.

Chinook Wawa was spoken in mills and canneries along the coast. In the new Vancouver on the Fraser River, it was the working language of the Hastings Mill. As this was the largest employer in the city, Chinook Wawa was the original working language of Vancouver. This important language of British Columbia exists in the memories of elders, in over 100 placenames and with a few words that still remain in our vocabulary like skookum, muckymuck and potlatch.

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