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2024 BCHF conference participants Impacted by depth of Indigenous Knowledge in S'ólh Téméxw

6 May 2024 11:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

The BC Historical Federation conference was a one-day event that featured the Federation’s Annual General Meeting, a keynote presentation, and a guided bus tour of S'ólh Téméxw (Stó:lō homelands).

The keynote presentation centered on masking and unmasking Stó:lō placenames, delivered by Dr. Keith Carlson, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous and Community-Engaged History at the University of the Fraser Valley and Director of the Peace and Reconciliation Centre, and Dr. Si:yémiya Albert “Sonny” McHalsie, Cultural Advisor / Sxweyxwiyam (Historian) at the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre, andinstructor at the University of the Fraser Valley.

The presentation explained how place-naming was an integral component of the settler colonial process, and suggested ways in how we can take action to move towards decolonizing, re-Indigenizing, and re-naming places that are known to have original Indigenous names.

Si:yémiya provided examples of place names that guided Indigenous communities while travelling that reflected their knowledge of sites with bountiful food resources; that commemorated historical events and occurrences; and that documented stories of origin and transformation.

Carlson spoke to the process by which colonialists asserted a degree of control by naming spaces and associating new memories that reflected settler heritages. He suggests empowering Indigenous communities to create policies and processes that lead to re-naming on Indigenous terms. 

The messages presented in the keynote presentation were subsequently seeded deeper into the minds of conference participants who joined a three-hour cultural bus tour of Stó:lō homelands where they saw and learned of original Indigenous place names and sxwōxwiyám (ancient stories) and sqwélqwel (personal and family histories) that give shape to Stó:lō culture, history and people. 

Dr. Si:yémiya Albert “Sonny” McHalsie speaks to participants of the 2024 BCHF conference near Yale. 

British Columbia Historical Federation
PO Box 448, Fort Langley, BC, Canada, V1M 2R7


The Secretariat of the BCHF is located on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish speaking Peoples. 

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