Guided Visit of Stó-lō Unceded Lands

April 24, 2022

PWIAS staff, scholars and guests recently participated in an Indigenous-led tour of Stó-lō unceded lands, guided by Sonny McHalsie, a traditional knowledge keeper. Sonny generously shared many stories, histories, traditions and place names as he led our group up-river to Hope, through Chilliwack and the Sumas Valley, and finally to the site of the St. Mary’s residential school.

Stó-lō knowledge keeper and guide Sonny McHalsie demonstrates traditional dip-net fishing methods

With the TRC, demands for Indigenous engagements have grown exponentially, placing a burden on Indigenous individuals and communities who are asked to be in service of settler self-actualization in relation to colonialism and its effects, which can often be (re)traumatizing for Indigenous peoples. 

For our visit, PWIAS asked the Indigenous-led tour operator to receive us on their terms (i.e. not expecting to have our perceived entitlements centred in this experience). We hope the relationships built during this visit will sustain ongoing and new collaborations in the future.

The visit emerged in the context of a PWIAS collaboration with Dani Pigeau, a school teacher and Indigenous knowledge keeper from the Stó-lō Nation. Dani is working with Wall Scholars Tom Scholte and Bethany Hastie in a project that will use theatre to support the Human Rights Tribunal to hear differently the cases of Indigenous claimants, with a focus on historical, systemic and intergenerational trauma, as well as narratives of Indigenous survivance, resilience and resistance.

Wall International Indigenous Scholar, Chief Ninawa Huni Kui, joined the guided tour of Stó-lō territory.