Sunday, March 8, 2009

Squamish Stl'Atl'Imax Cultural Centre

In early February I had the privilege of accompanies an Australian delegation of government reps and aboriginal elders to the Squamish Stl'Atl'Imax Cultural Centre in Whistler.

This is a new cultural centre built to celebrate the cultures of two distinct native nations, the coast Squamish and the mountain Stl'Atl'Imix nations. Historically both nations shared this land so it's fitting that a cooperative effort has gone into the creation and maintenance of the centre. It's a beautiful post and beam long house that features a wall of glass.

Glass walls are hardly traditional but no one minds as the light flowing into the long house perfectly highlights the cultural artifacts and the amazing works of art displayed within.

Shortly after arriving we were welcomed with the singing of a Jimie Jimie song which normally would have been performed as a welcome to a Potlatch celebration. Two things stood out about the performance. When the singer lowered his head took a deep breath and broke into song, all activity in the building stopped. As the notes rose and filled the long house people frozen enraptured by this amazing voice. It was opera-matic in range and texture.

As part of the performance we were invited to dance. Our earnest but some what lacking efforts were eclipse by this one woman who danced the part of the eagle. Her performance was trans- formative. I swear for a moment she became the eagle. It was incredible.

If you visit take time to examine the dug out canoes and try to image paddling them back and forth across Georgia Strait. I'm sticking to my kayak.

No comments: