Winter has arrived
qʷol təs kʷ sotič qwol tuss kw so’teech
Winter has arrived
BY KOOSEN PIELLE
Historically in the winter, my people would be gathering. Winter is a time for storytelling, dancing, singing, mending the nets, weaving and so much more. The fish would all be smoked, hunting season well underway.
The time to teach our čičuy (chee’chewy – children) by the fire, is in the winter.
Stories of creation, triumph, respect, struggle, how to carry yourself, and how to treat people would be shared. Oral tradition sustained all of our teachings, laws, ceremonies and language.
qʷolčɩt q̓ at̓ ᶿ qwol’chit Qat’TH We will come together Fast forward some years in Tla’amin, during my grandparents’ and parents’ childhood, Christmas was a time for visiting, reconnecting, and appreciation for one another. There are memories of our people going door to door and taking time to acknowledge each other, visit, and laugh together. We would share tea or soup with one another. Christmas was for socializing and coming together!
We took care of each other in our village. One elder remembers all of our people gathering at the hall that used to be behind the church. The nation would share apples, oranges, sandwiches, and have candy for the čičuy. Someone would bring their guitar, accordion, and we would celebrate the year together.
Christmas time is also a time for forgiveness. It's not good for you to carry negative feelings into the new year.
We are reminded that we have one family. One family who will always be there for you. Family that will always hold up when you need it. If there are differences with each other, it is the time to forgive. It’s time to put the anger down and be there for each other again. Our sense of community and belonging is strong.
We spend some time remembering our loved ones who are no longer on this side. We share memories and remember the legacies our ancestors have left behind. We are also taught to set new goals for yourself and count your blessings with your loved ones.
This Christmas, I encourage all of you to do the same.Say hello to your neighbor. Go out of your way to acknowledge each other, and make someone smile. Share some stories, share some hot tea. Remember that kindness and compassion for one another is immeasurable, and the feeling you give someone will far outlast any possession you can gift your loved ones. It’s time to get back to visiting each other again and practice being good neighbours.
To end, I want to leave you all with some ʔayʔajuθəm (Eye’ah’joo’thum) to practice in your homes this holiday, while you are visiting your loved ones. ʔayʔajuθəm literally means “speaking the language well”. Our language comes from this land, and we are very proud of it.