Songs From our Nations Volume 3 - language revitalization

Songs From our Nations Volume 3

The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) has released the third volume of Songs From Our Nations, a compilation of twelve traditional songs recorded by SLCC Ambassadors. Building on the success of Songs From Our Nations Volumes 1 and 2, this project fostered Skwxwú7mesh Sníchim (Squamish language) and Ucwalmícwts (Lil’wat language) reclamation efforts, further connecting Ambassadors to their cultures.

Lil’wat Nation in studio

Project Participants:

Squamish Co-Producer: Chiaxst’n Wesley Nahanee

Squamish Song Composers, Mentors and Language Advisors:

  • Latash Maurice Nahanee
  • Ses Siyám Ray Natraoro
  • Chenáwxwtn Swo-wo Gabriel
  • Ax7wil Travis Billy (Xaxli’p Nation)

Squamish Cultural Sharing Team of Drummers and Singers:

  • A7xwil Travis Billy (Xaxli’p Nation)
  • Swisk Jay Natrall
  • Brandon Hall
  • Roxy Lewis
  • Telaysaht, Aerienna Bruce

Lil’wat Co-Producer: Kúkwpi7 Gélpcal Chief Ashley Joseph

Lil’wat Language Advisors: Skícza7ul Heather Joseph (N’Quatqua Nation)

Lil’wat Cultural Sharing Team of Drummers and Singers:

  • Te̓c Georgina Dan
  • Q̓áwam Redmond Andrews
  • Rilla Sampson
  • Haláw̓ Brittani Peters (N’Quatqua Nation)
  • Stswáwcw Solstice Andrew
  • Calvina Smith

The objective of this project was to record traditional songs in Skwxwú7mesh Sníchim and Ucwalmícwts while fostering and celebrating cultural practices through storytelling, singing and drumming. While a compilation of songs was this project’s destiny, the journey enlightened Ambassadors about the healing that music can provide.

“I enjoyed learning, and growing through the songs that are on this CD. I am truly honoured to do so with those that have worked so hard throughout the entire process. It was challenging to bring something I know traditionally into the modern world.”

Te̓c Georgina Dan

“My favourite song to recorded was my song – We Remember, because I didn’t think I was going to record any of my song for awhile and the recording went very smoothly!  My song, We Remember was received after I met with a spiritual healer who told me that once we were done something was going to happen within the next couple days that will help me, but the song was complete within the next 20 minutes.”

A7xwil Travis Billy
Squamish Nation in studio

Project mentors from both nations lead the singers and drummers in honing their techniques to maintain proper etiquette and format of each song. In the process, Ambassadors learnt more about their respective languages and the spiritual connection these songs have to their cultures.

Q̓áwam Redmond Andrews (L) A7xwil Travis Billy (C) and Telaysaht Aerienna Bruce, singing on the shore of Alta Lake in Whistler. All three contributed to Songs From Our Nations Volume 3.

Songs From Our Nations Volume 3 was co-produced by Kúkwpi7 Gélpcal Chief Ashley Joseph of the Lil’wat Nation, and Chiaxst’n Wesley Nahanee, of the Squamish Nation. We give thanks to them and to the knowledge keepers who supported this project from both Nations. Gratefully, we acknowledge the permission to sing and record these songs that have been given to us by each song’s keeper (song keepers can vary: they can be a specific person, family, or nation).

“Knowing that every song has a journey behind it that carries good medicine…I can never hold one song above any other. They are all gifted by Our Creator for the well being of the people. They are all equally necessary for the spirit of our precious community. I would like to share the personal connection to our rich oral tradition. This project and all the songs give us an opportunity to have language and songs passed to the next. It will be exciting to have more of our people learn the language based songs and have them sung by even more people in the village. Drums and songs have great ability to bring everyone together.”

Kúkwpi7 Gélpcal Chief Ashley Joseph

“The thing I enjoyed the most about this project was that it was our youth doing the drumming and singing. All during the process I could only imagine how big the smiles of the Ancestors were as they looked over them during the rehearsals. We had families around with their children and the sparkle in their eyes made me think that must be how the Ancestors smiles look, all so bright and shining. These Squamish songs are what some people may say are new but our teachings are that the songs have always been there, it is up to us to listen with our hearts and not only our ears – OUR YOUTH ARE LISTENING!”

Chiaxst’n Wesley Nahanee

At the SLCC, we start each day with two songs, one from each Nation, during our morning circle.. While our venue is closed and our staff stay home during this pandemic, this CD has brought unsurmountable joy as a reminder of what the sounds of the SLCC – a place we consider our second home.

Made possible by a grant from Canada Council for the Arts, this project brought knowledge seekers and knowledge keepers together in an effort to preserve cultural information and create new stories for our modern world. Copies of the CD are available at shop.slcc.ca and downloadable from iTunes.

Team Highlights from learning, rehearsing, and recording Songs From Our Nations Volume 3:

“My favourite songs we recorded were the Travelling and Working song. I always grew up singing and listening to the song without the language (lyrics) because I never knew how, and only ever listened to my grandfather sing them. These songs I felt comfortable leading and I love the meaning behind them. The working song means that ‘everyone in the village had a job to do’ everything runs a lot smoother if everyone works together. The travelling song is very inspirational to me because of the lyrics it makes me never want to give up and to always look for something good. All the songs remind me of when I first found the passion for singing our traditional songs when I was 8 years old. I always enjoyed singing the songs and listening to my grandparents sing the songs in different ways. I’m also very passionate about revitalizing our language. I cant wait to teach the songs and the meanings.”

Haláw̓ Brittani Peters

The impact on my growth is amazing because I’m not keeping this knowledge to myself because my teachers and their teachers always say to pass the knowledge on when ever you can.  The growth of the community only got stronger because it brought a lot of us closer with our teachings that need to be passed on to anyone who wants to learn.”

Q̓áwam Redmond Andrews

“I enjoyed the mentorship and guidance. This project was uplifting to me. I was lost. This brought me back to my drum/rattle and to sing again.”

Rilla Sampson

“It was a wonderful experience to work with the professional staff at the SLCC. We were inspired by their enthusiasm and professionalism in singing and drumming. I am proud of their commitment to provide a great cultural experience to visitors to the Centre.”

Latash Maurice Nahanee

“The most special moment was seeing everyone find the beauty in the language and in the songs one at time. It was beautiful watching them all accept and embrace fully who they are. Our true identities as First Nation People have been lost. It is always uplifting to help each other find a piece of our true selves. This has surely opened the path for everyone, and The Journey in many ways; has just begun.”

Kúkwpi7 Gélpcal Chief Ashley Joseph

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