Ts’elxwéyeqw tribe captures the art of its historical storytelling with new book

“Being Ts’elxwéyeqw” is launching on Friday, Jan. 26 at the Stó:lō Resource Centre

For millennia, Indigenous people have been passing down their knowledge through the art of storytelling: these stories helped shape languages and allowed elders to share their faith, history, and culture with younger generations. But with the prevalence of English in so many First Nations communities, these traditional connections are being lost as knowledge-holders pass away without sharing the full breadth of their wisdom. However, one tribe from the Fraser Valley is working hard to document its history before it’s too late and the art of storytelling is gone forever.

In their mother tongue, Halq’eméylem, Ts’elxwéyeqw means, “as far as you can go upriver paddling a canoe before having to switch to using a pole,” which makes sense when considering their past. Historically part of the Stó:lo community who made their home in the valley along the banks of the Fraser River, the Ts’elxwéyeqw people settled along the shores of a neighbouring lake and river that were eventually given anglicized versions of their name: Chilliwack.

For nearly two decades, the Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribe, which comprises seven local indigenous communities, has been working diligently to preserve its history in a manner that can be shared with each other and neighbours. And on Jan. 27, their latest effort: a book titled, “Being Tselxwéyeqw: First Peoples’ Voices and History from the Chilliwack-Fraser Valley, British Columbia,” will be hitting the shelves.

David Jimmie, President of the Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribe and Chief of the Squiala First Nation, oversaw the book’s production and says the 303-page book is full of more than 700 images and stories from past and present elders and community members that have been passed along for hundreds of years.

READ MORE: Chilliwack First Nations bands reject Kinder Morgan cash

“This was a great opportunity to capture some of the knowledge and stories about what it means to be Ts’elxwéyeqw,” he says. There are stories “about what’s important to our people: hunting, gathering, fishing, our relationship with environment, spirituality, connectiveness and well-being. There are even stories of the diversion of the Chilliwack river and settler occupation,” adds Jimmie.

“It’s not your typical chronologically-ordered book,” explains Jimmie. “When our elders would pass along information and share their knowledge, a lot of times … they’d not tell you exactly what it meant. It was the responsibility of those being told the story to figure that out.

“This book is done in a similar fashion,” continues Jimmie. It’s up to the reader to read and understand what’s between the book’s covers “because we still have a strong presence of culture in Chilliwack, (and) a strong presence of spiritual people that are very much active in what’s been handed down for generations.”

The Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribe’s traditional territory spread from what’s now known as Yarrow to east of Chilliwack Lake. And as such, what it means to be Ts’elxwéyeqw has various meanings.

“It changes for everybody,” says Jimmie. “For some it’s about a focus on family: where they come from, what’s their lineage; for others, it’s their connection to the land and water; and others may focus on their spirituality. It’s a little bit of everything.”

READ MORE: Partnership in Chilliwack at the heart of new roundabout artwork

In today’s age of Truth and Reconciliation, the importance of literary pieces such as this cannot be overstated. “We’re evolving as people, not just the Ts’elxwéyeqw, but the greater community,” Jimmie states.

“Part of that growing is … understanding how we move forward together, and just (this) little bit of knowledge may help (explain) the history of (our) people,” because you have to know where somebody’s been to know where they’re going.

“We all live side by side and are working together in different ways to try and find common ways to make things better,” Jimmie adds. “I think this is one of those things that may help.”

Being Ts’elxwéyeqw: First Peoples’ Voices and History from the Chilliwack-Fraser Valley, British Columbia” was originally scheduled to launch on Friday, Jan. 26, however, it’s been rescheduled for Feb. 23, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., at the Stó:lō Resource Centre. The book has been available for purchase at the Stó:lo gift shop since Jan. 27, 2018.


@SarahGawdin
Sarah.Gawdin@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Just Posted

DFO confirms that investigation of fish habitat destruction in the Fraser River is underway

Conservation and Protection reps ordered Herrling and Carey Island owners to take corrective action

Chilliwack Chiefs get Daniel Chenard back in action

The top goalie in last spring’s RBC Cup missed the first half of the season rehabbing after surgery.

UFV students raise money to keep ‘nicest’ person in Abbotsford

Foreign student struggles to pay for schooling after Trump withdrawal from Iran deal

Jordyn Huitema wins Canada Soccer Youth International Player of the Year award.

The Chilliwack FC grad enjoyed a fantastic season representing her country in international play.

Petition against Bridal Falls gondola floated by Chilliwack man

Some say the gondola could close off a huge swath of recreational area above Bridal Falls

Man caught on camera allegedly trying to defraud ICBC

Auto-insurer warns B.C. drivers to record info after crashes

Warning issued as forecast calls for 20-foot waves in Tofino

Dangerous waves, strong currents and upper-shoreline flooding expected for Tofino-Ucluelet area

An 800-pound pig named Theodore needs a forever home, B.C. society says

‘Theodore is not destined to be somebody’s bacon’

2,000 Canadians died of an overdose in first 6 months of the year

New data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows the crisis is not subsiding

Teenager Alphonso Davies wins Canadian Men’s Soccer Player for the Year Award

Derek Cornelius and Chilliwack native, Jordyn Huitema were named Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

B.C. teen MMA fighter shows heart

Young Unity MMA competitors bring home Ws

Torched-SUV victim ‘had the purest heart,’ says sister

Family of teen found in burned SUV in Surrey appeals for justice

Another B.C. city votes to ban single-use plastic bags

First six months of proposed ban would focus on education, not enforcement

Most Read