St. Timothy’s Anglican Church hosted the Secwepemc Traditional Storytelling Extravaganza on March 23 and featured traditional yarn spinners Irene and Gerry Charley and shadow puppeteer Al-Lisa McKay and lots of dancing.
“It all went off very well,” said Rob Diether, one of the organizers. “We are very pleased and we had a good little turn out on Friday.
The event opened up with singing, drumming and dancing. A blessing was also included. Storytelling by the Charleys followed. Their tales were creation myths and legends of the Secwepemc.
One story was about a coyote who marries a goose and tries to fly south. He creates some wings out of feathers and the flapping carves out the valleys and the mountains as his makeshift wings touch the earth. The coyote, also known as Skelep or Sk’elep is a trickster in Secwepemc culture and has the power to transform as well as the ability of resurrection.
McKay’s presentation was a 15-minute shadow puppet presentation entitled the Hunger Moon.
The event was part of the Secwepemc cultural revitalization project that has been going on for months, starting on July 1, 2017. The performance was also filmed and elders were interviewed for a DVD that will be kept as a resource for the future.
“The Secwepemc language and culture are beginning to get lost and forgotten so it’s important to revive the language and culture,” said Mary Thomas, a member of the Sugarcane Band and one of the organizers. “Some of the stories are actually told in the Secwepemc and Shuswap language. People who don’t understand the language can tell by the story what’s being said because it’s quite dramatic when they’re doing the traditional storytelling.”
According to Thomas, the project has been very successful and beyond their expectations.
As for the DVD, Diether said they are hoping to get it shown in schools in the future and out to the different bands in the area as a teaching tool. The filming was one of the last parts of the project and also contains storytelling and interviews from elders from other events and bands.
“We’re hoping the storytelling will carry on and other people will take it up as well,” said Diether.