Last weekend marked a very important milestone for the staff of the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.
Programming, planning and production came together for an outstanding presentation of First Nations culture with a special blend of traditional and new, of expected and unexpected. And it was all done by the staff of the SLCC.
The staff, ambassadors of the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations, delivered food, culture, art and performances that had hundreds of guests learning about, appreciating and celebrating our Spirit Within, both the collective and individual spirit inside us all.
The carvers, weavers, fashion designers, performers and graffiti artists demonstrated their art to large crowds in Village Square, including hundreds who each received a personal smudging ceremony. The art market, carving, wool weaving and amazing performances throughout the day at the SLCC truly celebrated the beauty and depth of the cultures that local First Nations have to offer. Confidence and courage was offered through the inspiring words offered by a highly accomplished First Nations artist and business leader at Millennium Place to an audience mostly made up of local First Nations youth.
The evening festival was especially a crowning achievement for the staff as it delivered on its goal to cater in-house, for the very first time, a large-scale event with food that demonstrated a delicious fusion of traditional and new. The pride on the staff’s faces was clear and shining as they served tray after tray of First Nations fare to the delight of the very appreciative crowd. The selection of performances during the evening captured the attention of the guests with its blend of stories, dance, singing and beautiful regalia and masks. Later in the evening, more modern forms of performance art were offered by energetic Nation youth with acoustic, folk, hip hop music and beautiful fashions.
Support and help were provided by many, but in particular the Whistler community should be proud that the RMOW was instrumental in making this event happen with test and development funding support through the FE&A program. This festival demonstrates the important opportunity offered by the SLCC of a compelling and significant place-based cultural tourism attraction for the resort of Whistler.
Readers of this paper should plan on attending the next installment of this festival; the success and impact of last weekend inspires growth, encourages expansion, pushes for even greater plans and celebrations.
Look to the ambassadors at the SLCC, they are inspired to help us all find our Spirit Within.
Casey Vanden Heuvel
SLCC Executive Director