This past June Selkirk instructors Duff Sutherland and Myler Wilkinson were invited to visit Inchelium on the Colville Confederated Tribes Reserve in Washington State, just south of Christina Lake. Hosted by Arrow Lakes Facilitator Virgil Seymour of the Colville Tribe, Sutherland and Wilkinson were guided through the traditional lands on the American side of the border that form a common history with First Nations in the Kootenay-Boundary.
Virgil Seymour (right) and the Miss Arrow Lakes representatives at the elders luncheon in Inchelium that was attended by Selkirk College instructors Myler Wilkinson and Duff Sutherland this past summer.
It was a professional development journey that has paid dividends and on Friday the pair will speak about their trip at the Gathering Place on the Castlegar Campus.
“It’s important to understand the indigenous people that existed through and across borders over time,” says Wilkinson. “Now there is an international border that separates us, but you can see historically speaking and in a cultural sense, it is really one land.”
Wilkinson has been teaching in the Selkirk College English and Peace Studies programs for 27 years. Sutherland is a member of the history department and has been teaching out of the Castlegar Campus for 15 years.
Both instructors have a passion for the First Nations history of our region and jumped at the opportunity to take a closer look. The Lakes People in the Inchelium are directly related to the Sinixt in Canada. Though the Canadian government declared the Sinixt extinct in Canada in 1956, many still live in the region and are tied to the people south of the border.
“The international line has cut us off from the history on both sides of the border,” says Sutherland. “Even though I have taught the history of our area for many years, I don’t think I really understood what it was like below the border. I didn’t really feel like I knew those people until I went down there to see their community.”
Sutherland is currently teaching BC History, Latin America History, Canadian History, and the History of Western Civilization. Next semester he will add West Kootenay History to the list and will be able to share some of his first-hand experiences with students.
Wilkinson is teaching Peace Studies, Canadian Literature and English Literature this semester. He is one of the founding members of the Mir Centre for Peace on the Castlegar Campus.
Wilkinson, Sutherland and Seymour will be presenting The Cultural Homelands: Sinixt/Lakes People in the Kootenays and Beyond presentation will take place on Friday starting at noon at the Gathering Place on the Castlegar Campus. All are invited to this free event.
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