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VIDEO: Reconciling Stó:lō Place Names

7 Jun 2024 1:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

This presentation was delivered by Dr. Si:yémia Albert "Sonny" McHalsie and Dr. Keith Thor Carlson at the BC Historical Federation Conference on May 4, 2024 at the Gathering Place at the University of the Fraser Valley's Chilliwack Campus.

Si:yémiya is the Cultural Advisor / Sxweyxwiyam (Historian) at the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre, Stó:lō Nation, in Chilliwack, B.C. He is also an instructor at the University of the Fraser Valley, and has taught in the past for the University of Victoria for the Ethnohistory Field School. Si:yémiya is an active researcher and publisher, having authored and co-authored various articles and books over the past twenty-five years. The guiding principle behind his research is the ancient Stó:lō tradition of “being of good mind.” His areas of expertise include Stó:lō place names, sxwōxwiyám (ancient narratives) and sqwélqwel (family histories), fishing, and oral history.

Professor Keith Thor Carlson holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous and Community-Engaged History at the University of the Fraser Valley, where he has additionally been appointed Director of the Peace and Reconciliation Centre. Keith has been partnering with Coast Salish communities, especially the Stó:lō, to help document and interpret history and cultural traditions since 1992. His research is designed and executed collaboratively with Indigenous communities to meet community-identified priorities.

Si:yémiya takes you to places within S'ólh Téméxw, sharing Hal'qeméylem place names, and telling some of the sxwōxwiyám (ancient stories) and sqwélqwel (personal and family histories) that give shape to Stó:lō culture, history and people.

Dr. Carlson explains how place-naming is an integral component of the settler colonial process, and suggests 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.

Filming and editing by Elwin Xie, BC Historical Federation.

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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