It was a delight to witness the shishalh longhouse community gathering and performance on Nov. 8.
A small child met Denise and me at the door and we knew we would be in for a special evening. From the opening remarks by kwayimin (Andy Johnson) and mus swiya (Robert Higgins) to the farewell song and dance with the whole audience joining in, the evening was spellbinding.
The traditional storytelling by xets’émits’a (Candace Campo) carried great wisdom. With her sparkling smile and innate grace, xets’émits’a retold ancestral stories that carried lessons for everyone. Though the stories are very old, their wisdom is ageless and we are deeply grateful to this young leader for sharing them so generously with the local communities.
One is constantly amazed at the development of the xwanstut’s repertoire and depth of talent, both in singing and dancing performance. The deep longhouse men’s voices combined with the sublime women’s tones make for truly operatic quality. The strong, steady drum beats transport the audience to a place where supernatural characters come alive in a whirl of colourful masks, accessories and regalia.
Children, youth and adults play vital roles artfully and energetically.
With its elegant design throughout and masterfully carved house poles, this amazing house provides a wonderful setting for an evening of song and storytelling. Everyone is kept warm thanks to fire keeper, singer and drummer, Willard Joe.
We have been in a lot of longhouses over the years and no other has the refined simplicity and artistic elegance of the Sechelt Nation’s.
At the close of the evening, Chief Gary Feschuk spoke eloquently of the community’s forward momentum and former Chief Calvin Craigan expressed great pride in his shishalh family’s cultural renewal.
A very heartfelt “?ul-nu-msh-chalap” (thank you, all) for the tremendous hospitality!
Roger Lagassé, Halfmoon Bay