150 years ago in the Shuswap

Shuswap Chiefs in Victoria, 1867 for Queen’s birthday, photo by Frederick Daily courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives

As communities prepare celebrations to commemorate Canada’s 150th year since Confederation, it is a good time to reflect on what the Shuswap was like in 1867. By then, the Secwepemc people had adapted to the impacts of the European invasion, but their numbers were fewer because of smallpox and other diseases brought by the miners. The fur trade, which had passed its peak in 1827, still continued, as the 1867 Hudson’s Bay Company journal has two entries about marten skins purchased from “Adam’s Lake Indians.”
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Spring fever at the Shuswap Seed Swap


It was inspiring to spend a day inside the massive Splatsin Centre with hundreds of people, all eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring. The 23rd annual Shuswap Seed Swap held on Saturday, March 4th was a huge success, as in addition to the significant sales of seeds, produce, tasty food and handmade items, the many participants enjoyed meeting up with friends and sharing information about sustainable living.
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Mountain Caribou on the brink


On February 2, 2017, the BC Government announced it will provide $27-million to boost mountain caribou recovery efforts. The additional funding will be invested in the ongoing program that includes habitat protection and restoration, maternal penning, predator management, research and monitoring and increased compliance and enforcement. While the environmental community welcomed the announcement, there is a growing concern that it may be too late to save this iconic ungulate species from extinction.
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Arthur Manuel’s Legacy

Arthur Manuel addresses a group of activists in 2014

The Shuswap lost a true community leader and a powerful, effective advocate for Indigenous rights and title last month, when Arthur Manuel passed away at the age of 66. Thankfully, he wrote two books that provide a better understanding of the over two centuries of Canadian injustice that First Nations have had to endure and what actions are needed to rightfully address the problems.
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A Shuswap Passion Production

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip addresses the crowd at the Splatsin Centre grand opening

Did you know that in addition to reading these Shuswap Passion columns in this paper and online, you can also watch Shuswap Passion videos? Since 2011, I have produced 91 videos, most of which can be watched on my YouTube channel. While many of the videos focus on music, there are also mini-documentaries on hiking, skiing, paddling and environmental issues. My most recent video documents an extraordinary event, the December 16, 2016 grand opening of the massive new Splatsin Centre and includes clips of speeches, drumming, marching, story telling and singing. [SPLATSIN CENTRE VIDEO]

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The Haig-Brown Legacy

There is an effort underway to re-name Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park with a Secwepemc name. While it may be considered appropriate to recognize local First Nation’s over 9,000 years of life here with a name change, it would also be disrespectful to reject the contributions of one of BC’s most respected conservationists whose efforts led directly to the creation of the park. Although Haig-Brown passed away in 1976, his legacy carries on through the work of the Institute named for him that is based out of his well preserved home in Campbell River.

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The story behind the photo

Blind Bay Hall Costume New Years Party, 1920

Once Everything Shuswap is off to the printers, one of my next projects will be to prepare an educational guide to the book for use in the schools. For every page there will be suggestions for further research, study questions, links to more information and ideas for projects. Each of the hundreds of photos in the book can inspire the reader to ponder about the image, its significance, its history and its backstory, as well as to compare it with other locations or situations.

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Gifts that keep on giving

Kathi Cooperman surveys the west Shuswap from the Blind Bay Lookout

As we approach the solstice and the holiday season, it is appropriate to reflect on how fortunate we are to live in the Shuswap. It is a gift that keeps on giving, to live here, surrounded by clean air, clean water, green trees, and friendly neighbours. Plus we have four seasons to enjoy a wide diversity of recreational pursuits from golfing, swimming and boating to hiking, biking, skiing and snowshoeing.
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The transformative, gateway community of Sicamous

Sicamous from the hang gliding ramp lookout. Photo by Ian Clay

At the eastern gateway to the Shuswap is the municipality of Sicamous, a transformative community that is poised to re-invent itself again. Its unusual name is a derivation of the Secwepemc word “Shick-a-mows” meaning  “squeezed in the middle.” The early surveyor and explorer Walter Moberly first used the written word on his 1866 map of the region to describe the narrows between Shuswap and Mara Lakes.
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Shuswap’s first trail guides


Long before the Trail Alliance was even a glimmer of an idea, seven outdoor enthusiasts produced the first trail guide for the Shuswap region. In 1973, this group of like-minded friends who enjoyed exploring the backcountry obtained a federal Opportunity for Youth grant to publish a thin book with maps, photos and descriptions of local trails as well as canoe and cycle routes.
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