History

According to Island Comox cultural traditions, the origin of the people began at the meeting of the Quinsam (kwaniwsam) and Campbell Rivers. Mary Clifton, the last speaker of the Island Comox dialect, has conveyed the origin story of a man named Shalhk’em and woman named Tisitl’a that “dropped down from the sky” at kwaniwsam (Quinsam) in present-day Campbell River. With them, they brought the mask and garments of the Xwayxway and together became the first ancestors of the Island Comox people. For the descendants of the Shalhk’em and Tisitl’a, kwaniwsam remains the central location in which Island Comox territory moves outward to Salmon River in the north, Cape Lazo in the south, and the islands in the Salish Sea (formally the Strait of Georgia).