A group of Chilliwack high school students will be honouring Indigenous Peoples Day with a free bilingual concert where they’ll be singing songs in Halq’eméylem.
A total of 100 teens from Imagine High Integrated Arts and Technology Secondary School will perform two ‘Voice of the Stream’ concerts on June 21. The concerts are free, but registration is required.
Songs will be sung in English and Halq’eméylem, the traditional Stó:lō language of the Fraser Valley.
The concert will feature Imagine High students in the Stream Restoration program and Rock Band program performing with members of Éy St’élmexw St’elt’ílém/Good Medicine Songs (GMS), a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who collaborate to promote revitalization of Halq’eméyelem. GMS is headed up by Dr. Siyamiyateliyot Elizabeth Phillips, the last remaining fluent speaker of Halq’eméylem.
GMS collaborated with the students to write a new bilingual song about the importance of protecting water and salmon habitat, titled Listen to the Stream/Xwelelam te Stótelō.
Students in Stream Restoration contributed to the lyrics while those in Rock Band helped develop the musical, melodic and rhythmic parts of the song.
The concert is in partnership with the Artist Response Team (ART), an independent Vancouver-based production house, headed up by singer/songwriter/producers Holly Arntzen and Kevin Wright.
“Since 2019, GMS has been creating bilingual songs in Halq’eméylem and English that weave together ecological awareness with Stó:lō language, stories and worldview,” said Arntzen, producer/performer at ART, and a co-founder of GMS.
The Voice of the Stream concert is the final stage in a 10-week school project. Prior to the upcoming performance, students and educators at Imagine High were provided with song MP3s, lyrics, concert videos, stories and audio glossaries that teach pronunciation of Halq’eméylem words.
“It thrills me to see these young people from all backgrounds embracing the opportunity to sing in Halq’eméylem, and eager to learn about our Stó:lō teachings and stories and connection to the land,” said Xotxwes Jonny Williams, a language and cultural keeper, and co-founder of GMS. “This builds strength in our community amongst all peoples, and helps us to work together to take care of the land and waters.”
Brooke Haller, principal of Imagine High, said the project mirrors the school’s focus of hands-on learning and opportunities to perform.
“I think our students will walk away with confidence in the performing arts space and a deeper appreciation for living in harmony with each other, the land, river, and natural world,” she said.
Voice of the Stream concerts are at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 21 in the theatre at Imagine High (45669 Yale Rd.). The concerts are free, but registration is required. To register, go to calendly.com/imaginehigh/voice-of-the-stream.