Spo7ez Black Tusk SLCC Year in Review

2022 in Review at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre

2022 was a full year of heartfelt cultural experiences and offerings at the SLCC. We raise hands to our SLCC Ambassadors, our leadership at Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation, our Elders, our members, allies, sponsors, community partners, and our guests for a fulfilling year at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in 2022. He is a little recap of all the wonderful exhibitions, carvings, cultural programming and events that our team hosted at the SLCC this past year.

We were proud to host the travelling exhibition Our Living Languages: First Peoples’ Voices in BC from February until May. The exhibition gave us a chance to appreciate all the diversity in languages throughout BC and the special place that Ucwalmícwts of Liľwat7úl and the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh sníchim hold in in the greater First Nations community.

T’ec Georgina Dan and Tsawaysia Dominique Nahanee hosted the SLCC Language Video, sharing Ucwalmícwts (Lílw̓at) and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh sníchim (Squamish) words, in hopes that one day, the same greetings and names will be common place in the Sea to Sky.

In February we celebrated Family Day Weekend with engaging Indigenous experiences at the SLCC. Showcasing the spirit of the Skw̲xw̲ú7mesh and Lílw̓at7úl through heartwarming performances, tours, songs, storytelling, and crafts for the whole family. Free Craft Activities were shared with the community with thanks to the Province of British Columbia.

In April we hosted an Artists talk with Ed NoiseCat (Lil’wat Nation) for his Story Pole Sqātsza7 Tmicw – Father Land, a twenty-foot cedar carving now standing in the Great Hall. The pole received an awakening ceremony in June with Ed and his Apprentice Q̓áwam̓ Redmond Andrews, along with many friends and family in attendance.

This spring and summer the SLCC hosted the carving of the Community Reconciliation Canoe, with Master Carver – Chief Ray Natraoro (Ses Siyam) of the Squamish Nation, leading SLCC Ambassadors as Apprentices – Brandon Hall (Squamish Nation) and Q̓áwam̓ Redmond Andrews (Lil’wat Nation). The summer was filled with guests from all over the world, and children from throughout the Sea to Sky school district experiencing the Paddling through the Nations Tour – featuring an immersive carving experience. On October 14th, the great Community Reconciliation Canoe received a beautiful awakening ceremony and took its first water journey here on waters of the shared territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Líl̓wat7úl on Alta Lake, Whistler. Named Sí7la  (Grandmother), the canoe carries the beautiful spirit of the children who never made it home, held in her embrace. Glowing orange inside, wrapped by outer black, and surrounded in copper and cedar, framed with the faces of children who are not forgotten.

During the summer solstice, we celebrated the spirit of Skw̲xw̲ú7mesh and Líl̓wat7úl in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day, extending our programming from June 21 through to July 3. Nation members joined us in hosting an Artist Market, and guests enjoyed performances by the Spiritual Warriors and our Spo7ez Performance team. Our Apprentices shared live carving of the Community Reconciliation Canoe with Ray Natraoro, and our Cultural Ambassadors shared performances, storytelling and guided tours of the museum. We hosted the opening of a new exhibit Ancient Medicine, the Awakening Ceremony of Ed NoiseCat’s Story Pole Sqātsza7 Tmicw – Father Land, and the Speaker Series on July 1 with Rethinking Canada Day with Nantcw N Kakusent Tanina Williams and Mayor Jack Crompton for The Whistler Podcast. We raise our hands to CIBC and the Fairmont for supporting the bridge between June 21-July 3, with Free Admission – meeting our mandate in bringing authentic Indigenous experiences, distinctive to the territory, to a wider and more reflective audience.

On June 21, our feature Exhibition opened – Ancient Medicine: From Feast to Famine to Freedom to an enthusiastic audience as part of programming for National Indigenous Peoples Day. Exploring the complex health journey of Indigenous People, the exhibition we learned about some medicinal plants, how they are used today and how people are managing chronic illnesses caused by the interruption of our natural diet. Artwork featured explored the journey in relation to these themes from Nation members including opening speeches from Levi Nelson (Lil’wat Nation) and Tiyaltwelwet Melanie Rivers (Squamish Nation). We are grateful for the financial support of the Province of British Columbia, Canada Council for the Arts and Tourism Cares. This was the first of many exhibits for SLCC Curator Mix̲alhítsa7 – Alison Pascal and we congratulate her and the rest of the SLCC Curatorial team for their accomplishments.

We raise our hands to our 2022 IYA Graduates and Cultural Leaders for their work in 2022. The Indigenous Youth Ambassador (IYA) Program is an immersive cultural and business program that teaches the foundations of business through the lens of a First Nations Museum at the SLCC. Following a successful IYA Program in 2022, we now have two graduates working with us at the SLCC. The experience they gained over the fourteen-week paid training now has them working successfully on the floor in multiple departments – Cultural including Welcome Delegations and leading tours, Food & Beverage, Retail, and Maintenance departments.

We gathered for a day of reflection, stories, learning and contemplation on September 30th for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at the SLCC and Orange Shirt Day. We honoured Residential School Survivors and all those affected through hearing stories from our Elders and important perspectives from our Leaders, as well as the good medicine of cultural sharing through art, carving and weaving, stories and song. We raise our hands to all our leadership and Ambassadors for bringing this day together, and to Proud Partner CIBC and the Fairmont Chateau Whistler for Free Admission and Resort Municipality for supporting programming.

Through the fall of 2022 the SLCC began hosting the monthly Indigenous Cultural Awareness Workshop in partnership with our friends at Whistler Community Services Society, and sponsored by Heritage BC. Chet wa telnexw / Skúlmin’lhkalh / We are learning together is an immersive course in Indigenous cultural awareness and connection through the lens of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Líl̓wat7úl. The workshop is presented by Ta7talíya Michelle Nahanee – Decolonial Consultant of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation, Tanina Williams – Knowledge Keeper and founder of amawílc, of the Líl̓wat7úl Nation and Cultural Ambassadors from the SLCC. The workshop serves as a catalyst for change in Truth and Reconciliation in the Sea to Sky community, bringing guests to the SLCC for listening and learning through authentic conversations with leadership from the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation about cultural awareness here in Whistler. Attendees enjoyed a delicious lunch from the Thunderbird Café and Catering thanks to the support of Whistler Blackcomb Foundation.

In October, the SLCC partnered with Indigenous Tourism BC in hosting A Culinary Journey Through Land, Sea and Forest – a long table event in the Great Hall featuring four Indigenous Chefs and their teams presenting a spectacular dinner to the media industry. Mr Bannock’s Paul Natrall – Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish Nation), Executive chef Kil Tlaa’sgaa Brodie Swanson of Xaayda Gwaay.yaay (Haida Gwaii), Salmon n’ Bannock’s Darnell Stager of Ts’msyen (Tsimshian Nation), and SLCC’s Maggie Wallace Líl̓wat7úl (Lil’wat Nation) worked gracefully together to present an inspiring evening celebrating Indigenous cuisine.

As part of Cornucopia 2022 – Whistler’s Celebration of Food and Drink, this year the SLCC showcased Lil’wat Nations Red Seal 3 Chef Maggie Wallace, and Executive Chef Steven Fecho, in two distinguished events: the Sidecut x SLCC x Fort Berens Dinner at the Four Seasons Resort and Residences and the Signature event – the SLCC Spo7ez Cornucopia Fall Feast – a long table dinner and Spo7ez Performance in the Great Hall. We raise our hands to the team at Cornucopia for ensuring the authentic Indigenous experience is a feature of their signature events.

The SLCC achieved three great awards in 2022, recognizing the exceptional experiences our Ambassadors share in their work every day. In March the SLCC was proud to win the 2022 BC Indigenous Operator of the Year Award presented by Indigenous Tourism BC (ITBC) and Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) at the Annual BC Tourism and Hospitality Awards hosted by the Tourism Industry Association of BC (TIABC) and the BC Hotel Association (BCHA) in partnership with Indigenous Tourism BC. The Award recognizes Indigenous tourism businesses that demonstrate authenticity, cultivate a greater understanding of Indigenous culture, history and traditions, and contribute to the resilience of the local Indigenous community. In October, the SLCC celebrated two great wins and recognition at the 2022 Whistler Excellence Awards hosted by the Whistler Chamber of Commerce on October 20th. The entire team at the SLCC won the Excellence Award for Service Excellence – Large Business and Moody Dan, SLCC Manager of Operations, took the Excellence Award for Rising Star. The SLCC was also a finalist in the category of Whistler Champion of Arts & Culture.

The SLCC is proud to be named in The Original Original Accreditation Program with Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC). The Original Original mark of excellence recognizes the SLCC as one of Canada’s best Indigenous tourism experiences and assures visitors of a quality tourism experience. The mark is the first of its kind and gives consumers peace of mind knowing that they are directly supporting Indigenous Peoples, individuals, families and communities. Learn more at slcc.ca/about-us/

We are so proud of Whistler Blackcomb for becoming a Thunderbird Ally this year, and for all the work they are doing throughout the resort. We raise our hands to all the teams at Whistler Blackcomb – for listening and learning, and finding ways to bring Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Lilwat7úl culture, cuisine, language, and art into the employee and guest experience at Whistler Blackcomb. Along with the feature menu at Merlin’s Grill and Glacier Creek Lodge, they proudly display artwork from Artists of our Nations at Christine’s on Blackcomb. The new Red Chair and Creekside Gondola are named in both languages, and have new Gondola wraps for the SLCC. Our Welcome Ceremony is now a weekly feature at Fire and Ice on Sunday evenings. They introduced 1200 new staff members to the SLCC as part of their on-boarding training in the fall, and introduced Land Acknowledgements worldwide across all Vail resorts, creating a deep learning experience for all staff everywhere.

On the winter solstice – December 21st we hosted the official opening of our feature Photography Exhibition – UNCEDED: S7ULH TEMÍXW / TI TMICWKÁLHA / OUR LAND – A Photographic Journey into Belonging. Honoured Chiefs and Leaders were present to share their appreciation for bringing our people together to celebrate our unique connection to the land and for bringing fresh perspective and understanding to the wider community. We celebrated the occasion into the evening with a Spo7ez Winter Feast, a spectacular experience sharing First Nations inspired cuisine, authentic storytelling and songs from the Spo7ez Performance team. We are grateful to Logan Swayze Photography as well as our title sponsor the Fairmont Chateau Whistler for supporting this important work from Curator Mix̲alhítsa7 – Alison Pascal and Assistant Curator Tsawaysia Dominique Nahanee. Experience our exhibition now until Oct 8th, 2023, to learn more visit slcc.ca/unceded

The SLCC Gallery and Gift Shop continues to be the best shopping in Whistler for authentic Indigenous gifts, Pacific Northwest First Nations handcrafted artwork and merchandise. As Whistler’s only authentic First Nations Gift Shop, we raise our hands to our Gift Shop Ambassadors for making the experience that much more special and representing our Artists and Indigenous entrepreneurs so well.

The Ambassadors at the Thunderbird Café kept everyone’s tummies and hearts full this year with delicious First Nations-inspired cuisine, treats, good strong coffee and nutritious teas. The team now offers our Venison Chili, Salmon Chowder and Baked Bannock with Whistler Blackcomb at Merlins Grill. Thanks to Whistler Blackcomb for bringing our cuisine and our language to the mountain experience.

Weddings and Events made a big return this year to the SLCC, and our Events and Banquets Ambassadors and our partners rose to every occasion, continuing to show why the SLCC venue is a natural and beautiful setting for the coming together of all guests, their families and celebrating new partnerships. To learn more visit slcc.ca/venue

In 2022 nearly one million dollars in payroll and contracts went towards Indigenous families living on reserve. As a non-profit society and registered charity, the SLCC relies on the support of partners, guests, and donors to continue our work and thrive in our mission to be a world celebrated centre, sharing meaningful experiences, educating all, and lifting our distinct Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Líl̓wat7úl ways. Learn more – Invest in Culture.

Join us in 2023 as we continue to share, celebrate, and work together for a stronger Indigenous-fueled future.

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