Elders recall special renaming ceremony for Sun Creek
When dawn broke on September 28, 2022, it heralded an important day in history for the Shuswap Band as Sun Creek was not only renamed to Sqlewúlécw (Sklaow-Ooloo) but was restored and revitalized too.
Sun Creek is one of the wetlands near Canal Flats.
The care for wetlands has been infrequent throughout Canada, which leads some to disappear completely.
In 2015, several individuals assessed Sun Creek and concluded that it’s not healthy anymore due to logging and other activities. The water was no longer entering the water basin, which prompted the need to restore and revitalize the wetland.
The B.C Wildlife Federation (BCWF) finally decided to restore Sun Creek by rerouting the water so it could enter the basin. They dug deeper pools to capture the water and also planted more trees to help with water retention. The new wetland is now a habitat for many beavers.
The creek’s restoration was a cooperative partnership between elders of the Shuswap Indian Band and the BCWF.
Enola Eugene, culture and heritage assistant for the Shuswap Band, said the BCWF was “hoping to get any input from elders in terms of maybe plants or stories of the area, and one of the outcomes of it was to rename the area.”
Eugene said the name came from two separate wetlands — the Hippo wetland and Sun Creek. They finally decided to name it Sqlewúlécw, which translates to Beaver land.
Eugene added that the project is not only about restoring the wetlands but is also part of a bigger revitalization plan.
“It’s part of an initiative for language revitalization and also steps towards reconciliation and Indigenous rights and titles,” she said, adding it’s also about “taking ownership” of their land again.
Suzie Thomas, events coordinator for the band, recalled the renaming ceremony as an uplifting event on a beautiful day.
“We had all ages there. We had youth and elders, and community members come together to celebrate the renaming. It was just beautiful to come together and participate in that ceremony [which was highlighted by a lot of drumming and prayer].”
Thomas used the word “humble” to further describe the ceremony that brought elders and the younger generation together “in the moment.”
Since the partnership with the BCWF, the Shuswap Band is planning to rename other areas and wetlands in the coming years.
“I believe we’re going to be part of the Sqlewúlécw restoration as it moves forward,” Eugene said.
If anyone is interested to know more about last fall’s ceremony, visit: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/tess-macdougall-5544b6170_on-september-28th-2022-shuswap-band-took-activity-7025175669600882688-CU4v/
Julia Archelene Magsombol, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer