Shuswap Indigenous storyteller gives environmental warning for B.C. Culture Days | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Shuswap Indigenous storyteller gives environmental warning for B.C. Culture Days

Kenthen Thomas dressed as Coyote as part of his storytelling performance.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Murray Paterson Marketing Group

A Shuswap storyteller will be sharing the teachings of his people as well as an environmental warning about how our treatment of the land can have repercussions.

B.C. Culture Days ambassador Kenthen Thomas is a Salmon Arm performer, storyteller, elementary school teacher and Secwepemc Nation member.

“I’ve been storying for probably 20 plus years and it was something that I just kind of fell into because I did a lot of school plays and I did a lot of theatre in my time and storytelling came naturally with the oral presentation,” he said.

Thomas has written and will perform an original story, based on tales and traditions of the Secwepemulucw ancestors.

“What we call the animal people in the stories and I like to perform my rendition of what I think they would be like, from my knowledge from the stories,” he said.

The piece will focus on the current state of the world.

“We have a saying ‘the land will turn on you’ and it kind of goes both ways. The land gives itself to us and it’s our belief that everything, the so-called natural resources, the trees and plants give themselves to us for nourishment… but they can also take themselves away from us,” he said.

If we’re not careful, the story’s lesson is that we might end up losing everything, he said, adding he will be tying in B.C.’s unprecedented wildfire season this year.

“Whoever listens to these stories will take whatever lesson they need in their time in their life… it’s not prescriptive, I’m not going to sit down with you and say ‘this is the lesson you’re going to learn.’”

His main character is Coyote, a trickster who breaks rules to bring teachings through his mishaps. A one-man show, Thomas weaves Coyotes adventures with other animal characters.

“Whatever animal you can think of, I always add to the story,” he said.

Thomas has trained as an actor and worked with Caranvan Farm Theatre and Sen'klip Native Theatre Co.

He hopes his audience “has fun” and they see the beauty of the teachings of the Secwepemulucw ancestors who created the language from the land.

“Eighty-five percent of the Indigenous language here in the Secwepemulucw is verbal, it’s action words and it’s because we always remarked on what was happening, not what was going to happen or what happened… I want them to be able to walk away with my telling of a story but utilizing the knowledge,” he said.

Thomas will be performing outdoors at 1 Avenue Southwest, east of the Trans-Canada Highway in Salmon Arm on Sept. 25, Oct. 1 and 2. He encourages audience members to bring lawn chairs.

For more information on B.C. Culture Days, which runs from Sept. 24 to Oct. 24, visit the website here.


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