A free concert is scheduled for the afternoon of September 29 at the University of the Fraser Valley in Chilliwack for those affected by the tragedies in Canadian dormitories.
The Chowiyes-Xwithet/Rise Up-Wake Up! The aim of the event is to educate through music provided by Éy St’elmexw St’elt’ílém/Good Medicine Songs. There will be songs, stories and a basket ceremony to honor the ‘shxweli’ or spirit of life of the boarding school children who never made it home, the survivors and their families.
“The musical ensemble Good Medicine Songs was formed through a partnership between Sqwá (Skwah) First Nation and the Artist Response Team (ART) to create bilingual songs that weave ecological awareness with the Stó:lō language and worldview,” said Holly Arntzen . who founded ART and is one of the performers.
On the day before the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th and Orange Shirt Day, the special UFV event is dedicated to the path of reconciliation and the revitalization of the Halq’eméylem language, the upstream dialect of the Stó :lo people.
“The simple act of singing together in Halq’eméylem builds relationships between community members to work together for a bright future,” said Arntzen.
The unique event was realized as a result of several partnerships, including with the host UFV.
“The University of the Fraser Valley is honored to present and host this unique and important event in the spirit of healing and transformation for survivors and family members, as well as all community members affected by the tragedies that have occurred at Canadian boarding schools,” said Joanne MacLean, President and Vice Chancellor of the UFV.
There will be a basket ceremony highlighting the role of stólō baskets in transmitting traditional knowledge.
“The hampering ceremony commemorates my family’s presentation of a special hamper to the university to be placed over the entrance of the gathering place,” said Lolehawk Laura Buker, UFV Professor of Indigenous Studies and executive producer of the concert event. “Let’s walk this path of reconciliation together and always keep our children at the center of health, well-being, happiness and love.”
The cross-cultural event at the UFV venue in Chilliwack will demonstrate the power of song and storytelling, as well as the resilience of those trying to keep the traditional language alive.
The spiritual leader of the Good Medicine team was Siyamiyateliyot Elizabeth Phillips, recipient of the 2022 Indspire Award for Culture, Heritage and Spirituality. The feisty Stólō Elder is the last remaining fluent speaker of Halq’eméylem, and she has dedicated her life to preserving the language.
Good Medicine Songs performers include Stó:lō language and culture carrier T’it’elem Spath Eddie Gardner, Lolehawk Laura Buker, Xótxwes Jonny Williams, Sulisulwut Bibiana Norris, Lori Kelly (Semá:th) and Xwelitem (“other background “) Singer-Songwriter/Musicians including Holly Arntzen and Kevin Wright of the Wilds Band.
“The BC Used Oil Management Association and Tire Stewardship BC are honored to partner with such a talented and inspiring group of artists for this event,” said David Lawes, CEO of BCUOMA, and Rosemary Sutton, Executive Director of TSBC, in a joint release Explanation . “We’ve worked together with ART for the past decade and have seen firsthand how music and storytelling can unite people.”
Hundreds of local activities are taking place across the country to commemorate the tragic history and legacy of boarding schools. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a direct response to TRC Call to Action 80, which called for the establishment of a federal statutory memorial day, which occurred in 2021.
Chowiyes-Xwithet/Rise Up-Wake Up! The event will take place on September 29 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the University of the Fraser Valley Gathering Venue at 45190 Caen Ave., Chilliwack, BC. Registration via Eventbrite.
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Indigenous ReconciliationTruth and Reconciliation