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Lakes Secwepemc (Shuswap Lakes)

Healing through the Art of Storytelling - Stseptekwle Festival

The Healing through the Art of Storytelling – Stseptekwle Festival is an annual event that consist of a series of interactive and participatory activities that take place from May to October. The festival organizes the time and space for artists, mentors and participants of all age groups and levels of storytelling ability (advanced, intermediate, and beginner) to come together to share cultural teachings and express present day experiences in a positive, supportive and compassionate environment. Following the theme of food, land and culture, intermediate and advanced storytellers have the opportunity to profile and model their artistic skills and abilities through traditional storytelling methodologies. Beginners are given an opportunity to develop their talent through either retelling a traditional story in the oral tradition, or using modern tools and technology to create their own story of present day experiences using a variety of media (including creative writing and poetry, dance, music, visual and performance, or digital video). Artists/mentors work in cooperation with individuals and organizations to facilitate participation in the storytelling workshops and activities as a means of tracking, evaluating, reflecting upon and sharing stories about their participation in community food related action.

Some examples of storytelling domains are:
Food – hunting, fishing, gathering, gardening, traditional food preparation, preservation and technology, relationship to food, healthy eating.
Land – relationship to the land, spirituality, place and belonging, stewardship, survival
Culture – traditional knowledge, values, language, cross cultural sharing, contemporary influences, active living
Social – residential school, cycle of oppression, mental/emotional health, networking (friends & family), self awareness, community/project development

Project Purpose: 

It has been recognized that although there have been several attempts in the past to improve the collective health and well being of the Secwepemc through various food, land, culture and youth related projects, there has been an inability to bring together adequate numbers of individuals and organizations from all four of neighbouring Adams Lake, Little Shuswap, Neskonlith and Splatsin Indian bands in B.C. to collaborate and participate in the various projects.

Many have witnessed the breakdown of traditional social networks that are necessary for maintaining community food security networks and cohesive relationships based on mutual reliance and trust. Re-establishment of tribal values that underlie healthy, interdependent social networks will require working in the affective domain towards attitudinal and behavioural change.

Project Leader: 
Denise Michel, Community Facility Director - Adams Lake Recreation and Conference Centre
Contact Person: 

Denise Michel

Contact Email: 

Janice Rose Billy

Janice Rose Billy

Mentor, grassroots community leader, activist, volunteer, traditional harvester (berries and traditional medicines), organic gardener, role model, Secewepemc culture and language teacher, Doctor of Education.

Special Achievements: 

Completion of doctorate studies in Education - focusing on Secwepemc cultural revitalization.

Leading grassroots activist at the Skwekwekwelt Protection Centre - opposing land grab and ski resort development at Sun Peaks Ski Resort. Published author and founder/Director for the Lakes Secwepemc Sustainable Community Building Society.

Testimonies / Comments: 

I don't know anyone else who harvests, grows and preserves as much food for her family. Janice is one of the hardest working women in our community and is an amazing role model. Janice has a tremendous amount of respect in our community and deeply understands the importance of working towards protecting the remaining fragments of Secwepemc land and culture.