Indigenous storytelling, crafts and culture will be front and centre in Abbotsford on Sept. 30.
Multiple community partners have collaborated to honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, with a commemorative event at Civic Plaza/Thunderbird Square.
The event is the first of its kind, and titled Stetis imexstowx (a Halq’eméylem phrase that translates to Walk Beside Us) and will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A press release for the event notes that Abbotsford is on the traditional, ancestral, unceded, and shared territories of the Stó:lō people, Mathxwí First Nation, Semá:th First Nation, and Leq’á:mel First Nation.
The day will include story presentations that shed light on Indigenous history and culture, a chance to create meaningful, hands-on crafts that promote understanding and respect, and live presentations that will help participants gain insights from speakers and thought leaders who champion Truth and Reconciliation.
One of those presentations is a “hauntingly beautiful performance” inside the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium, inspired by the award-winning children’s book Semá:th X̱ó:tsa: Sts’ólemeqwelh Sx̱ó:tsa / Great-Gramma’s Lake. Professional puppeteer Tamara Unroe and students from Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts (ASIA) – Sumas Mountain bring giant illuminated puppets to life, recalling the memory of Sumas Lake as it would have been before it was drained.
There will be performances (40 minutes each) at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
David Gutierrez from Chawathil First Nation will be sharing stories about Stó:lō culture and history, inside Clearbrook Library (all other locations are closed on Sept. 30 for the national holiday). Meanwhile, Abbotsford Secondary, Yale Secondary and UFV invite you to hear what local youth have to say about reconciliation, inside The Reach.
The whole community is invited to take part in the day’s events, which was created with a partnership between the City of Abbotsford, Tourism Abbotsford, The Reach Gallery Museum, Abbotsford Children’s Theatre, Abbotsford School District, Abbotsford Police Department, Clearbrook Library, Literacy Matters Abbotsford, Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service Fire Hall 1, and University of the Fraser Valley’s Peace and Reconciliation Centre.
The plaza is located at 32315 South Fraser Way, and the event is being held indoors and outdoors.
“We look forward to your participation in this important event as we come together to honour our shared history, learn from one another, and take meaningful steps toward reconciliation,” the release stated.
Stetís ímexstowx is pronounced: Stah tee-ss ee-mehx-sst-owwhx. Follow @stetisimexstowxgathering on Instagram for ongoing updates leading up to the event.