About the film
St’at’imckalh, T’elsqalcw i Ucwalmicwa ~ SPIRIT OF THE PEOPLE
Statimckalh, Spirit of the People, explores the rich culture of the Statimc People, their history, and their spiritual relationship with their land.
In 2011, the Statimc (aka Lillooet tribes) celebrated the 100 year anniversary of the Declaration of the Lillooet tribe, which firmly asserts their rights and title to their land. This film weaves personal interviews, ceremony and song into an experience the audience won’t forget.
The magic of these wild landscapes and rugged mountain ranges is brought to life through time-lapses and stunning cinematography. Personal testimonies heal deep wounds set in by residential schools, colonization and assimilation. Victory is triumphant in the hearts of this proud nation.
Told with great symbolism and imagery, this story relates to all first nations in Canada.
‘St’at’imckalh ~ Spirit of the People’ was shot entirely in High Definition, with HDCAM and DSLR cameras. The footage includes rare insights into the St’at’imc culture and Spirituality. Fishing, hunting, ceremony, songs and dances, prayers and expeditions into wild and remote places make this film a vivid experience in stunningly beautiful landscapes.
Elders speak from the heart and reveal unthinkable experiences from their childhoods such as having the village of their birth buried under water by damns flooding their home land, or being sent to residential school and being beaten for speaking their native tongue. Yet, this Nation has withheld its’ identity, and its’ pride, and continues to fight for their land and way of life.
The film features rare interviews with elders who are fluent in the St’at’imcets language, as well as archival photos of the first Europeans to arrive.
The story engages the viewer in a piece of Canadian history that has yet to be told.
The flow of the film is smooth and gentle with a haunting soundtrack of native flute and chanting. The messages are conveyed to the heart and soul of the viewer and shown with much symbolism and poetic visual expression.
‘St’at’imckalh ~ Spirit of the People’ is a cultural self portrait of a nation and their territory. It is an historical document that tells the story of how the St’at’imc people have endured unthinkable hardships and lived to tell the tale. This feature film includes archival images from the late 1800’s, before Canada was formed and Aboriginal people were the vast majority in these wild lands.
The Lillooet Gold Rush of 1858 saw a stampede of miners flood St’at’imc Territory, spelling death to the St’at’imc with Smallpox and other diseases. The survivors could not defend themselves or their territory from horrendous onslaughts of devastation by mining and logging, until recently. Their lands were effectively stolen by the Government of Canada when it assumed the ownership of what it called “British Columbia”, leaving only small parcels of land in “reservations” for the indigenous tribes.
The worst was yet to come. Aboriginal children were forced into residential schools where they were robbed of their culture, their language and their way of life. The legacy of grief is still healing to this day. “Shedya” Hereditary Chief Marty Thevarge, tells of his time in residential school and how the memory of an experience in the mountains with his father sustained him in his darkest hours.
A great flood buried St’at’imc villages when 3 damns were built on the river valleys that fed the nation. “Tsacwcen” , Elder Carl Alexander tells of his childhood in “The Land of Plenty” (now known as the Bridge River valley), before it was flooded by BC Hydro in 1960. The ecology of the land has suffered with the people. Many runs of salmon have disappeared since building of these damns, and diverting the water. Power lines cross the reservations like spiderwebs and cut off wildlife corridors. The ability for the nation to feed themselves has been severely impacted.
“We are not surviving anymore, we are thriving as a people…” says “Kakla” Hereditary Chief Clarke Smith
For the last 9 years, the St’at’imc have been having ‘culture camps’ for the youth out in the wilderness each summer, as a way to get back out on the land, out of the reservation, and learn traditional ways of living, and harvest the medicines of the land and walk in their ancestors’ footprints.
Every year the Nation gathers to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of the Lillooet Tribe, May 10th 1911.
This Sovereign Nation will never surrender.