The Spirit Within is inspired by the spirit we have within all of us and the theme of our recently completed annual festival organized and produced by the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. The festival this year expanded from one day to four and the volume of cultural presentations more than tripled. Several new components were added this year, including an elegant tea party celebrating locally collected leaves of many varieties and highlighting the health benefits of these indigenous plants. Also new was an evening of entertainment performed by First Nations artists entirely dedicated to contemporary art forms including blues, world beat, grunge/folk as well as a classically trained cellist.
Free native art appraisals were provided (someone discovered they owned a $1,500 work of art they bought at a Value Village!) and indigenous artists were carving/weaving in multiple locations in the village all weekend including the library, in several hotel lobbies and in Mountain Square.
BravoFact supported an aboriginal filmmakers’ series in the SLCC theatre and the longhouse was host to an inspiring lecture from Wanosts’a7 (Dr. Lorna Williams) from Lil’wat Nation, who presented a fascinating talk on indigenous principles of learning and shared her research in relation to her work at the University of Victoria as part of her role as Canada Research Chair.
Did you take advantage of the chance to have a great horned owl, falcon or majestic golden eagle perch on your hand? I did and I’ll never forget it. Or perhaps, you touched one of the creatures from beneath the Salish Sea — over 200 school children from throughout the corridor did as part of our partnership with the Vancouver Aquarium.
We had almost 1,000 visitors through the SLCC during our festival weekend, which more than doubled last year’s results, along with many more who witnessed the artists on location in Whistler. Our Saturday evening main event was sold out, inspiring us to add an additional show allowing more opportunities for guests to see the beautiful and more traditional forms of First Nation dance, storytelling and song.
There was much love and support from our business partners but in particular, thank you to the RMOW who, through the Festivals, Events and Animation program, helped us bring an incredible range of local performers and artists to Whistler, inspiring many guests to experience their artistry on an otherwise cold, wet and grey weekend. Whistler still shone even though the sun did not.
We look forward to the opportunity to once again expand the experience next year and ensure that Whistler provides authentic and memorable experiences to both the community as well as our guests. The SLCC is proud to be an important part of the growth of cultural tourism for Whistler; today and tomorrow.
Casey Vanden Heuvel
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre