We may not always agree, but we can learn about each others spirit as we spend time with one another.
When shíshálh want to build a relationship, a foundation of understanding, we share - we share our stories. It's a good start.
You may have noticed at our public forums our shíshálh speakers and other First Nations members do not keep speakers' notes because you are taught that as a speaker you are a messenger. And not merely a messenger, but more of a vessel, a server of what is intended to be shared. It is the Creator and the audience who shape the message.
The Creator and the people truly help shape the stories you share as their presence, their spirit guide your words.
But this is not to say that one does not prepare. If technical expertise, laws and protocols needs to be conveyed prep is key. In traditional times and even today, storytellers, orators and chiefs would need to remember the stories of the tribes, extensive genealogy records, treaties and agreements with the other tribes, including resource management, environmental and social law, the customs of the various tribes as well as ones' own tribe and it was all done orally, by spoken word in your own language and in other tribes' languages.
It really makes me think today, how our communities are striving towards learning one another's customs, ways and stories. In our busy lives, it's a process no doubt. It takes time. Our West Coast environment dictated seasonal harvest and this allowed our peoples to congregate in the winter seasons in our longhouses and learn each others' customs, stories and protocols. Today our current economy and social structure hinders communal living in many aspects and we need to find new ways and adaptations, be more steadfast to our customs and possibly modify some of our expectations.
In our Coast Salish societies, the names associated with significant cultural sites, villages, campsites, harvest sites, and areas of congregation, were and are named by our leaders. It is our protocol. In what is known today as the Town of Gibsons is where Sechelts have lived for countless generations with our Squamish neighbours, our hosts of those areas.
We share significant stories and history on these sites. As Sechelts we will always be the Squamish peoples' invited guests because of our close ties. During our gatherings that we continue today, we break bannock, we reconfirm our connection, our strong ties and respect for one another.
Today, we live in a world where protocols are not so mutual and or easily understood within our pluralistic society, but we can learn from each another.
The relationship building has already started.
Editor's note: Candace Campo writes regularly for Coast Reporter on Sechelt Nation issues, its people and its history.
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