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SLCC expands artistic offerings

Carving and weaving projects take shape at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre

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Whistler's Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre first flung its beautifully carved doors open over one year ago, welcoming visitors from around the world and locals in to explore the cultures of the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations. Now that the centre's final three exhibits - the traditional outdoor longhouse and istken replicas and forest walk exhibit - have been completed, it seems like the centre now has loads of arts programming scheduled to take place in its confines this summer.

Sarah Goodwin is the manager of training and program development at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre.

"Now that we've got expanded space to offer programming, we feel it's really important to engage visitors in a variety of traditional arts programming," she said.

The SLCC has just launched its summer art offerings with two youth-elder programs: a regalia program taught by Lil'wat Nation elder Barb Peters and a large-scale carving project with Squamish Chief Floyd Joseph.

"Much of what we're doing at the centre is connecting people with the cultures of each of the nations and elders have the experience and knowledge that has been built through generations, and so we try to ensure that the Aboriginal Youth Ambassadors working here have the opportunity to learn from elders in their communities in a variety of disciplines."

It's a way for the two nations to hand down traditions to their youth, and to share their culture with members of the non-Native community who visit the centre. In the case of both the elders and youth, Goodwin said interest in the programming has been strong, so far.

The 10 selected participants, who come from Vancouver, Squamish and Mount Currie, are members of the centre's youth ambassador program. They will receive certification in a range of business and tourism areas, including a post secondary component through Capilano University as they progress through the program.

"Our Aboriginal Ambassador program is a summer program that incorporates elements of education, training, cultural knowledge and work experience and it's a 10-week program," Goodwin said. "The program provides Aboriginal youth from both nations with the opportunity to learn about their language and culture, as well as gain employment skills development in a variety of the functional areas within the centre."

Peters' regalia workshop features pieces of traditional attire or apparel used in First Nations ceremonies.

"So the regalia that they're making with Barb, it's a variety of things based on each Ambassador's interest. The primary objective is each person will be making moccasins or footwear, and other people in addition to that are supplementing their regalia by making things like capes and skirts," Goodwin said.

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