Since he was a little boy growing up in Mount Currie, Gerald Gabriel has always practised traditional In-SHUCK-ch dancing.
In fact, his traditional name, Indian Boy, was given to him during his days as a member of a traveling dance group over 30 years ago.
“I really enjoy doing these things, and just having fun with it,” said Gabriel, who now resides in In-SHUCK-ch territory and has developed a reputation in the community as someone who still upholds the Nation’s traditions.
“Some people get ashamed during things like dancing — worried that they are doing something wrong. I try to explain that there is no wrong way or right way to dance to the songs. You know, everyone is still in the learning stages, it is just important to do them,” said Gabriel.
Gabriel will draw on his talents to share some of the Nation’s many traditions — including dancing, cedar weaving, and xusum ice cream —during this weekend’s In-SHUCK-ch Days at Head of the Lake School in Skatin.
“We are bringing stuff out that hasn’t been seen for years, stuff that very few young people know,” said Gabriel about the event.
In fact, this year is the first time an In-SHUCK-ch Days has been held.
According to In-SHUCK-ch Days coordinator Sarah Hall, the weekend is designed to both enhance identity and pride within the community while promoting key traditions and values.
“It is kind of both celebrating the culture and passing it along to ensure that these traditions aren’t forgotten,” said Hall.
“A lot of members from the community really wanted a fun celebration of their culture and traditions, and something that brought everyone together to partake in that,” she said, adding that planning for the event began late last year.
Beyond showcasing In-SHUCK-ch traditions, the event is also putting a heavy focus on youth.
“Our mandate this year is that it is directed at the youth and the kids. I mean, they are going to be the ones that are carrying on the traditions, and we really want to see them getting excited about their culture, and just get excited about the festival in general,” said Hall.
Mount Currie rockers BLT on Bannock will play Saturday night, along with the well-known First Nation hip-hop group 7 th Generation, who incorporate positive messages on youth issues into their rhymes.
“7 th Generation play a lot of different festivals across Canada, and I know that a lot of the youth really like them, so that is why they are coming. They send a really positive message, and they just really throw down some good beats, to put it frankly,” said Hall.
A career and educational fair has also been planned to get more youth participating in the event.
And a Kid’s Fun Zone is also being set up for the little kids, which will include colouring contests and relay races.
All events will take place at Head of the Lake School in Skatin, which was built in 2004 to allow the children in the community to be educated on the reserve.
“We’re expecting maybe about 300 people. There has been a lot of excitement from not only the three communities of In-SHUCK-ch Nation, but also people from the Sea to Sky area. So we might even have more than that,” said Hall.
The In-SHUCK-ch Nation is composed of three First Nation communities — Douglas, Skatin, and Samahquam — located within the lower Lillooet Valley. The towns closest to their traditional territory are Pemberton and Mount Currie in the north, and Harrison Hot Springs and Agassiz to the South.
Other recent activities the community has done to promote their tradition to the younger generation include Ucwalmicwts language classes, teaching traditions such as cedar bark gathering and basket weaving, and building the school in Skatin.