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First Nations groups receive funding to keep traditions alive

Cultural Centre and Xit'olacw receive funding

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The Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Centre is one step closer to reality with a $350,000 donation from the RBC Foundation.

The 30,000 sq. ft. three-storey cultural centre, a joint project of the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations slated to open in the summer of 2007 in the Upper Village, will showcase the history, creative works, and culture of the two nations.

"The Cultural Centre unites the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations," said Chief Gibby Jacob of the Squamish Nation. "It gives us a place where we can celebrate our ancient customs and contemporary history, a place where performers, artists and storytellers can share our rich traditions with the world."

The donated funds will go toward reviving artistic and cultural traditions through youth apprenticeship and training programs. Funds will also go toward sponsoring shared knowledge between First Nations youth and Vancouver and Whistler school children.

The Cultural Centre is a legacy project connected with the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. RBC is the premier banking sponsor for the 2010 Games.

"We’re excited about the unique opportunities this partnership brings to help revitalize and strengthen our cultural tradition," Chief Leonard Andrew of the Lil’wat Nation said. "Our people are more than ready to showcase our artists and artisans and to give visitors to Whistler an authentic First Nations cultural experience."

In other funding news, Xit’olacw Community School, north of Pemberton, received $1,500 toward maintaining its numeracy and camping programs from the Community Foundation of Whistler.

Twice a year Xit’olacw students learn how to build sweat lodges, assemble fish camps and participate in drumming and dancing as part of a traditional camping experience. Two-thirds of the funding received from the CFOW will go toward purchase of a teepee that students will paint, decorate, and build poles for as part of the summer program.

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