29 Dec 2023 Year in Review at the SLCC: A Year of Cultural Resonance
Reflecting on 2023, it was a full year of heartwarming cultural experiences at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre’s (SLCC), and the powerful presence of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Lí’wat7úl was felt throughout the community. This year has been a year filled with cultural resonance, community engagement, and impactful partnerships, building on our commitment to sharing the rich heritage of the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation, and the heart of authentic Indigenous experience at the SLCC in Whistler.
We raise hands to our 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 2023. We proudly share our year in review showcasing all the wonderful events, exhibitions, carving, and cultural programming that our team hosted at the SLCC this past year.
One of the highlights was celebrating the SLCC Ambassadors winning the prestigious Citizens of the Year Award at the Whistler Excellence Awards. As we look back on a busy year, we raise our hands to our Ambassadors for their passion and commitment to sharing the living culture of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Lí’wat7úl with the greater community and guests from around the world.
The Indigenous Cultural Awareness Workshops at the SLCC in partnership with Whistler Community Services Society and Heritage Canada continued to foster understanding and bridge cultural gaps in our communities. Participants immersed themselves in the teachings of Ta7talíya Michelle Nahanee and Xalek Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish Nation and Tanina Williams of the Lil’wat Nation, contributing to a more connected and informed community.
Family Day weekend brought joy and connection to families who visited the SLCC. Engaging storytelling, guided tours, and cultural experiences created lasting memories for visitors of all ages. Free Craft Activities were shared with the community thanks to the Province of British Columbia.
The Unceded Exhibition continued to captivate hearts and minds, drawing visitors into a profound exploration of sovereignty, resilience, and identity. The impact of the powerful photography and storytelling left an indelible mark on our Ambassadors, Nation members, Sea-to-Sky residents, and visitors from around the world. Honouring heartwarming stories the exhibition provided a profound and thought-provoking experience for all who attended, offering a unique perspective not seen in contemporary stories in the Sea to Sky corridor, and created a dynamic platform for dialogue. It served as a bridge between historical narratives and contemporary presence, leaving a marked impression on all who experienced its inspiring visual storytelling. The exhibition was curated by Mixalhíts̓a7 Alison Pascal (Lil’wat) and Tsawaysia Dominique Nahanee (Squamish), and was gratefully supported by the Fairmont Chateau Whistler and photographed by Logan Swayze.
We were honoured to host TEDxWhistler at the SLCC, amplifying Indigenous voices with inspiring speaker series including Lil’wat Nations Lhpatq Maxine Bruce and T’ec Georgina Dan, and perspectives from SLCC Executive Director Heather Paul. Their stories resonated with a local and global audience, furthering the dialogue on Indigenous wisdom, resilience, the importance of cultural heritage, and the collective journey for truth and reconciliation.
Curator Mixalhíts̓a7 Alison Pascal curated The Art and Storytelling of the Skwxwú7mesh and Líl̓wat7úl for a captivating new Walking Tour through the Go Whistler App by Tourism Whistler, inviting visitors to explore the cultural richness of our stories and authentic art of the shared territories throughout Whistler, starting and returning to the SLCC.
The Summer Salish Carving Series and the awakening of the house post carving in the fall was a memorable occasion, celebrating Master Carver Xwalacktun (Rick Harry – Sḵwx̱wú7mesh / Kwakwak’wakw / Namgis) mentoring SLCC Apprentice Brandon Hall – Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, who together brought the design to life. This monumental piece not only represents artistic brilliance but serves as a living connection to ancestral traditions, celebrating the amalgamation of Hereditary Chiefs, and ensuring the continuity of Squamish culture for generations to come. Crafted with the precision and reverence of a Master Carver, this magnificent art now stands at the SLCC entrance on Lorimer Road, further solidifying our dedication to celebrating traditional artistic practices while honouring authentic representation in Whistler. Part of a two-year immersive experience creating a pair of carvings, a Master Carver from the Lil’wat Nation will mentor a Lil’wat Apprentice and carve on-site at the SLCC in the summer of 2024. The two carvings will be sisters, telling a complimentary story and bringing them new life as carvings authentic to the territory standing together on Lorimer Road at the entrance to the SLCC.
Celebrating on June 21, the National Indigenous Peoples Day event day drew the community together in celebration of authentic Indigenous experiences with Free Admission for all thanks to Proud Partner CIBC. The cedar log received a ceremonial blessing along with Master Carver Xwalacktun and Apprentice Brandon Hall to begin carving the Sister House Post throughout summer to honour the 100th Anniversary of the Squamish Amalgamation, proudly supported by the Government of Canada, Province of British Columbia Heritage BC, Resort Municipality of Whistler. Curators Mixalhíts̓a7 Alison Pascal (Lil’wat) and Tsawaysia Dominique Nahanee (Squamish) hosted two large gatherings of guests learning in-depth stories from the Unceded Exhibition. Celebrations were experienced with Spo7ez cultural sharing and a lively performance by the Spiritual Warriors of the Lil’wat Nation. The day highlighted the vibrancy of our heritage and heart of Squamish and Lil’wat traditions and contemporary experiences, and hands-on craft activities thanks to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler that allowed participants to engage with the rich heritage of the area. Whistler community partners Lululemon hosted a gathering of guests for yoga in the Istken Hall to honour the summer solstice, and Whistler Film Festival showcased Indigenous Film – Indian Road Trip from Director Allan Hopkins (N’Quatqua Nation).
On July 1 long weekend we gathered with cultural sharing, a culmination of events celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Months with thoughtful and immersive programming, with Free Admission thanks to Proud Partner CIBC. Guests listened in for the annual speaker series with Wilson Williams and Mayor Jack Crompton discussing Rethinking Canada Day, and engaged in Cedar Paddle Necklace craft activities thanks to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.
The 100 Years of Unity Exhibition showcased resilience and strength – celebrating 100 Years of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) honouring the date that sixteen villages came together on July 23, 1923 in Amalgamation, and complimenting the summer Salish carving with Xwalacktun taking place at the entrance to the SLCC.
Honouring the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, the SLCC hosted a reflective day with cultural sharing, immersive crafts, and guest speakers sharing heartfelt stories. In our continued dedication to truth and reconciliation, the SLCC provides a space for a deeper understanding of Indigenous experiences in Canada, authentic to the Skwxwú7mesh and Líl̓wat7úl. Offering an environment where all visitors can engage in listening and learning, contributing to the collective journey of healing. Indigenous artisans and vendors added vibrancy, creating an atmosphere of cultural exchange and appreciation.
The Indigenous Youth Ambassador program thrived in 2023, hosting three intakes throughout the year. Many proud graduates now contribute their skills and knowledge to various SLCC departments, including Admin, Cultural, Cafe and Catering, and the Gift Shop. The third group are working into the new year gathering new knowledge and applying valuable skills learned during their time at the SLCC.
The International Indigenous Tourism Conference featured Mixalhíts̓a7 Alison Pascal in the speaker series Creating a Resilient Indigenous Workforce offering unique insights into Indigenous tourism and the value of authentic Indigenous training programs such as the Indigenous Youth Ambassador program.
In 2023, the SLCC forged meaningful allyships with Whistler Blackcomb and Ziptrek. These partnerships underscore our commitment to working together in collaboration with mutual understanding.
We welcomed Whistler Blackcomb as Thunderbird Allies. Whistler Blackcomb has proudly ignited their efforts this year to go beyond the land acknowledgment, working with the SLCC as a Thunderbird Ally to bring the history, culture, and language to their employee and guest experience within their on-mountain businesses. Integrating the SLCC into their training of 1200 of their new team members coming through the museum, witnessing the culture and hearing the language firsthand. The valued partnership in Indigenous-inspired cuisine from the Thunderbird Cafe featured at Merlins Restaurant in the winter of 2022/23, the Mountain-Top Summer Feast, and grew to become a full-featured Indigenous-inspired menu at Ravens Nest Restaurant for the winter of 2023/24, along with Spirit Bear Coffee, Ravens Brewing, and Nk’Mip Cellars Wine. The Fitzsimmons Chairlift name shows the languages from both the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation. We raise our hands to the WB leadership team for their friendship with the SLCC, and for taking to heart our call to action: listening and learning, and finding ways to incorporate the presence of Skwxwú7mesh and Líl̓wat7úl into the employee and guest experience.
We welcomed Ziptrek Ecotours in Eagle Allyship, who proudly engaged the SLCC Curatorial team to compliment the storytelling for on-mountain Ziptrek tours. We raise our hands to the Ziptrek team for partnering with us in allyship to bring authentic storytelling to their guest experience and sharing the SLCC as the home of authentic Indigenous experiences in Whistler.
Our partnerships in events like the Fire and Ice Show, WSSF Whistler Ski and Snowboard Festival, Summer Concert Series, Crankworx, Whistler Children’s Festival, Whistler Film Festival, and our feature in The Amazing Race TV Show showcased the SLCC’s vibrant presence on the cultural and community stage throughout Whistler and to global audiences.
In June we hosted guests for an immersive Holistic Tour and Indigenous Tea Offering as part of the Cornucopia Nourish series. In November our authentic Indigenous experiences shined as part of the Cornucopia Whistler’s Celebration of Food and Drink including the Spo7ez Fall Feast and Taste of Indigenous Worlds, created culinary experiences that celebrated Indigenous flavours and traditions with contemporary flair, set amongst the towering carvings of the Great Hall and complimented with cultural sharing.
The SLCC stands to be the most exquisite venue and preferred choice for meetings, conferences, weddings and events, providing a unique and culturally rich backdrop for special occasions and authentic connections. The SLCC’s in-house Spo7ez Catering compliments the incredible gathering space with Indigenous-inspired cuisine.
Our Gallery & Gift Shop showcased an array of authentic Indigenous art and keepsakes offering visitors the opportunity to take home a piece of authentic Squamish, Lil’wat and Pacific Northwest cultures. The Thunderbird Cafe continued to delight visitors with a culinary journey through Indigenous-inspired cuisine, emphasizing local ingredients and traditional flavours.
As we conclude this remarkable year of cultural connection, the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre expresses deep gratitude to our ambassadors, nation members, community, partners, and visitors. Our year was marked by cultural resonance, the significance of artistic achievements, and the profound impact of community engagement. From the intricate House Post carving to the thought-provoking Unceded Exhibition, and the meaningful celebrations of National Indigenous Peoples Day and commemoration of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the SLCC continued to be a beacon of authentic cultural richness, education, and community connection. As we look forward, the SLCC remains dedicated to preserving, sharing, and celebrating the dynamic culture, art, storytelling and cuisine of the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation through authentic Indigenous experience. Here’s to another year of cultural resonance and shared experiences.
Huy Chexw / Kukw`stumc`kalap / Thank you all for your dedication and support of authentic Indigenous experience at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler.
Wishing you all a vibrant and connected 2024!