The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre’s First Nations Winter Feast & Performance takes place Thursdays and Sundays until April 18.
A hearty Indigenous-inspired menu featuring braised bison short ribs, cedar plank salmon, and three sisters butternut squash soup tickles the taste buds while captivating cultural performances nourish the soul.
Based on the successful Summer Feast & Tour at the SLCC, the Winter Feast is geared towards families with an early start time of 5:45pm. Guests are warmly greeted in the Great Hall by a hostess, and after checking in they are invited to visit the cash bar for a glass of wine or beer as they peruse the exhibits in the museum. A friendly, knowledgeable docent is on hand to answer any questions guests may have, and at 6:10pm he gathers everyone at the welcome figure to share a welcome song.
After the welcome song guests are led into the Istken Hall and shown their seats; depending on group sizes, some family-style seating connects guests with others who are eager for the evening to unfold. Smiling servers top up water glasses and share how the evening will flow, and after guests have visited the bar to refill their wine glasses, Cultural Performer Daniel Wells emerges from behind the curtain to welcome guests to the SLCC’s First Nations Winter Feast & Performance. With baited breath, guests lean in to hear Daniel’s first story and song.
What strikes guests about this evening experience is that it is full sensory: they hear the sound of authentic deer-hide drums; they feel the weight of a hand-carved canoe paddle in the Great Hall exhibit; they see the stunning pow-wow regalia worn by the Wells Family; they taste rich savoury flavours inspired by Salish cuisine; and they smell the rich cedar of which the SLCC’s structure is comprised.
The SLCC’s mandate is to provide meaningful employment opportunities for members of both the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations. The purpose of the Cultural Centre is to share their rich cultures and traditions, inspiring a greater understanding among all who visit. The Winter Feast transcends the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations’ traditions by incorporating elements learned by their nation members from others. For example, the Pow Wow regalia worn by the Wells Family is a result of their travels on the North American Pow Wow circuit as children and young adults. The Wells Family, from Lil’wat Nation, have been blessed to share songs, stories, dances and wear their regalia at the Winter Feast after years of building strong relations with the nations of which these traditions originate from.
Elements of the Winter Feast that specifically represent the Squamish and Lil’wat Nation are our staff, the welcome song, access to the museum, the décor created by Squamish Nation artist Peter Wayne Gong, and menu items inspired by both nations. Though most importantly, the act of feasting is significant to both Squamish and Lil’wat Nations for its role in ceremony. By inviting guests into the SLCC to feast as a group as we share our cultural knowledge, we are fulfilling our purpose of celebrating our rich histories and fostering cultural regeneration on our shared territory. Guests leave the Winter Feast with their hearts and tummies full, but most importantly they leave having learnt about Indigenous cultures – not only Squamish and Lil’wat, but beyond our territories through food, wine, regalia, dance, and song.
The Winter Feasts have become an integral part of Whistler’s dynamic arts and culture scene because they share the stories of our ancestors who have been here since time immemorial. We raise our hands in gratitude to those who have already joined us – and for those who will by season’s end, we look forward to welcoming you to the Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh L̓il̓wat7úl Cultural Centre.
Huy Chexw (thank you) – Squamish Language
Kukw`stumc`kalap (Thank-you all) – Lil’wat Language
Written by Mandy Rousseau, Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
Find out all the details on the First Nations Winter Feast & Performance series: