Secwepemc performer to deliver traditional storytelling through virtual event | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

Current Conditions


Kamloops News

Secwepemc performer to deliver traditional storytelling through virtual event

Kenthen Thomas during a past storytelling performance.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Kenthen Thomas
June 01, 2021 - 6:30 PM

As the Kamloops area, and the country, reels from the news of the discovery of a burial site found near the former Kamloops Residential School, Secwepemc performer Kenthen Thomas will deliver his storytelling through a virtual event tomorrow evening.

Thomas is currently a School District 73 Aboriginal resource teacher, but he boasts a performing resume including time with the Secwepemc Native Theatre, Dreamweaver Theater and Caravan Farm Theatre, according to the Facebook event page.

"It's for the ones that do not get home too often and do not get a chance to get out to the communities and listen to stories from their Elders," Thomas said. "It's a way of creating a connection for anyone that cares to listen."

At 6 p.m., June 2, Thomas will perform retellings of Secwepemc stories via Zoom in a free event, which is open to all ages.

While the recent news of a burial site near the former Kamloops Residential School, where the remains of 215 children were found, brings a "heaviness" to his performance tomorrow, he said he has been working to organize the performance for months.

"It does bear a huge significance, and huge weight, on the stories themselves. I'll still tell them, but maybe have an air of humour or brevity to take some of the weight off this moment," Thomas said. "I was telling my class that this knowledge was supposed to be erased. Any Nation you go to it was all supposed to be gone, but because of our resilience, it was still salvageable."

Thomas performs retellings of Secwepemc legends, which he learned from his late grandmother, Dr. Mary Thomas.

Secwepemc language and stories have "become marginalized and even endangered," the event page reads.

Thomas says he his not a fluent Secwepemctsin. He does his best to retell stories without causing offense, but they sometimes risk being "lost in translation." 

"From what I understand, our language is 85% action words. To tell it in the original language, it takes on a whole new life," he said. "In Secwepemctsin, there is so much breadth and brevity."

Viewers can expect Thomas to focus his storytelling tomorrow on "the moment" and to provide enthusiasm and humour, as said he often does in his performances.

"My partner likes to close her eyes so she can see it her in mind's eye and I encourage others to do the same. So you can transport and hear the words of the ancestors going over many mouths and many tongues — to know that our traditions, culture and language is still alive, even if it's a little flicker. So future generations can grasp onto it and say, 'This is what makes us different. This is what makes us Secwepemcúl'ecw.'"

The event is being organized by off-reserve member and contractor for the Adams Lake Indian Band, Rebecca Jules. Based in Vancouver, she provides support services for urban members.

Jules said among the reasons that the event was organized is to lift people's spirits. 

"It's one of our most important values," she said. 

But the other is because it's her task to help reconnect members who live off-reserve with their culture, language and community.

"A lot of our members off-reserve have been away for a very long time, either because they fled residential schools, they were taken in the sixties scoop or other reasons," Jules said. "I wanted to provide a space for people to engage with the community."

The event is being hosted by the Adams Lake Indian Band, and can be viewed via this Zoom link, or visit the event Facebook page here for more details.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

News from © iNFOnews, 2021

  • Popular penticton News
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile