Grand Chief Steven Point and Gwen Point on the site of the new Skowkale Longhouse. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

VIDEO: Oldest longhouse in the Fraser Valley to be rebuilt in Chilliwack

Longhouse fundraising gala at Tzeachten Hall, May 5 puts spotlight on Indigenous art

The peeled logs are piled on the site of the oldest traditional longhouse in the Fraser Valley.

The logs are about to be used in construction of the new $1.3 million Skowkale Longhouse in Chilliwack, which will soon get underway.

The old longhouse, built by the family decades ago, had been falling apart and was in need of replacement, said Steven Point, a Grand Chief of the Sto:lo people, who is also former B.C. Lieutenant-Governor.

The Skowkale longhouse on Chilliwack River Road was a beloved milestone of the Sto:lo Coast Salish people over the years, and was known far and wide.

“We figured it wasn’t safe after a while, so we had to start demolishing it and taking it apart,” said Grand Chief Point.

That necessitated taking the next steps toward the rebuilding of the longhouse, their sacred home.

Members of the Point Family, and Don Milo Society, have been working hard to raise $500,000 for the building project, and are planning a Longhouse Gala and Art Auction at Tzeachten Hall on Saturday, May 5. So far they’ve raised about $100,000 of that goal.

“I have embarked on a unique project with my family that will enrich and contribute to our traditional way of life for me, my family, and the future of my community and Nation,” Point said.

A longhouse is where Indigenous culture is practised, revered and celebrated with ceremonies.

“The culture for Sto:lo people and for all First Nations in Canada, is crucial,” Point told The Progress. “It’s the central part of who we are.”

Sharing of their culture was outlawed in the late 1800s with anti-potlatch laws, and for a long time until the late 1950s, it meant they couldn’t dance, they couldn’t sing, and couldn’t participate in a parade, Point said.

“A lot of our culture was wiped out when our kids were forced to go to residential schools. Our language was lost. We have one fluent speaker left in Sto:lo territory.”

That is why the resurgence in culture of late is so vitally important.

“Our culture is saving our young people,” Point underlined. “It’s giving them an identity. It’s giving them a life. There’s nothing more important for a human being than to say: ‘This is who I am; this is where I come from.’

“We’re finding our young people are saving their lives by being reintroduced to their own culture.”

The longhouse will be a sacred home for the Skowkale, the Sto:lo people, and much more.

“The longhouse becomes more than just a religious facility, it’s a community facility that accords our culture a place to be,” Point said.

The support has been tremendous to date from the Sto:lo, and their neighbours.

“We’re at the 100,000-dollar mark in our fundraiser,” Point said. “But it’s going to happen. We’ve got a lot of good corporate sponsorship that has come forward to say, ‘This is a good project we want to help.’

“In this era of reconciliation, I think that is really what it’s about, people wanting to see First Nations being able to practise their culture again.”

The May 5 gala at Tzeachten Community Centre will feature a traditional feast, keynote speech by Grand Chief Steven Point, amazing door prizes and artwork from master Indigenous artists.

Donors can go direct to www.gofundme.com/skowkalelonghouse or more details at www.longhousegala.ca.


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

The building of the Skowkale Longhouse is underway. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Just Posted

Serious crash closes Highway 1 at 232 Street

One vehicle burst into flames, victim airlifted to hospital following Thursday evening collision

Abbotsford high school football talent sign with university teams

Bateman’s McGennis, Abby’s Uko continue football journeys at post-secondary level

Chilliwack prolific offender a no-show for sentencing hearing

Warrant issued on May 17 for Jeffrey Michael Kizmann wanted for robbery

Three arrested in Aldergrove stabbing

Downtown areas cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape, under police watch

Evacuation alert rescinded for Glen Valley

City of Abbotsford says flood risk has dropped

Vancouver Island girl scores with winning song for BC Summer Games

‘Colours’ is a perfect theme for 2018 BC Summer Games

B.C. pipeline goes ahead despite scrapped Pacific Northwest LNG

NEB approves amendment for $1.4-billion natural gas North Montney Mainline Project

Update: Wildfire northwest of Kamloops jumps from 60 to 800 hectares

Ground crews and aircraft are responding to an estimated 50 hectare wildfire approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Kamloops, near the Deadman Vidette Road.

Feds limit chinook fishery to help killer whale recovery

Chinook is main food source for only 76 southern residents killer whales left

B.C. mom who died just before daughter’s wedding wanted family to be happy: twin

Ann Wittenberg was pulled into the ocean while on a surf board in Tofino last weekend

Courtenay-Alberni MP calls for lifeguards at popular surf spot near Tofino

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is defending its decision to cancel the surf guard program.

Harvey Weinstein to surrender in sex misconduct probe: officials

Would be first criminal charge against Weinstein since scores of women came forward

Fuel truck crash closes B.C. highway, sends two to hospital

Trans-Canada Highway reopens to traffic early Friday morning

Media are not an arm of the police, Vice lawyer tells Supreme Court hearing

Ben Makuch challenges Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that he must give materials for stories to RCMP

Most Read