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Kym Gouchie sings at High Beam Dreams June 8

Cultural connections inspire the visiting singer
A. Kym Gouchie
Kym Gouchie will perform at High Beam Dreams in Gibsons on June 8.

Lheidli T’enneh singer-songwriter Kym Gouchie will present music and stories that chronicle her deepening understanding of identity, belonging, and tradition during a show in Gibsons on June 8. The performance is part of a southern B.C. concert tour by the artist and educator, who lives in Prince George, and is in commemoration of National Indigenous History Month by the High Beam Dreams event centre. 

Gouchie refers to herself as an “Elder in training.” Today, in the band office of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, photographs of her father, grandparents and great-grandparents are displayed on a wall that commemorates the nation’s Elders.  

The tribute to the family was a long time coming. Gouchie was raised off-reserve, where she struggled to fit in. She was bullied throughout her school years. 

Despite early consciousness of her Indigenous heritage, her identity and self-image were caught in the weeds of racist legislation. In keeping with the strictures of Canada’s Indian Act, Gouchie’s grandmother was disenfranchised as a so-called Status Indian because of her marriage. Her husband had surrendered his status to gain a modicum of the privileges then accorded exclusively to whites. 

In 1985, the passage of Bill C-31 finally reinstated the status of First Nations women who had lost it through marriage. A clerk at the band office realized that the new law allowed the Gouchie family to be restored as fully-qualified members of the Lheidli T’enneh Nation. 

“I still remember the day that I got the letter in the mail,” Gouchie said. “I’ve kept that letter and it states that I am now a Status Indian. I felt like a human being, like I mattered, that I was somebody.” 

Today, in the Elders gallery, Gouchie’s image hangs alongside photos of her family members. Her distinction as a musician—in 2019 she won the Stingray Rising Star award at the Mundial Montreal world music summit—has been complemented by her dedication to preserving Indigenous culture. Two months ago she won the Prince George Library Board’s Jeanne Clarke Service Award, recognizing her work to preserve the Lheidli T’enneh nation’s history, culture, and its Dakelh (Carrier) language. 

“It makes me feel like I’ve earned that place in community,” Gouchie said. “I believe that the title ‘Elder’ is an earned title. It’s not something you have just because you have an age. It’s really to do with who you are, and what your life work is, and what wisdom you carry.” 

Gouchie plays the traditional hand drum and acoustic guitar to accompany her full-bodied vocal style, a rich blend of traditional chant and bluesy lamentation. Since 2014, she has released five albums and a single (“In the Hearts of You and Me”) that also incorporate elements of her Cree and Secwépemc ancestry. She visits schools regularly to lead workshops and sing about the weight of history. 

“Whether it’s a school show for little people or an adult audience, the things that I sing about are my experience,” she said.  

“There are also universal experiences. When I sing about murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls and two-spirits, that affects everybody. When I sing about the protection of our sacred waters and our mountains and our forests, that’s universal. And when I sing about residential schools, that touches everybody as well.” 

During her June 8 concert, Gouchie will also be brandishing a ukulele, which she recently incorporated into her repertoire. She believes in a harmony of diverse traditions, and is currently using a Canada Council grant to weave her three ancestral languages into an original musical album for children. 

Gouchie’s show at High Beam Dreams will be opened by Lola Parks, a Vancouver-based Indigenous soul, folk, and pop performer.  

Tickets are available via the High Beam Dreams website at