Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC)

The Story Of This Project

The roots of this project are with the archaeology done at Qithyil, our ancestral site. Our people learned a great deal about our sqwélqwel, our true histories, from this work. During the digs, we discovered over 6,000 belongings. We call the artifacts, features, and other objects found in our ancient archaeological sites ‘belongings’ to denote that our ancestors made and used and curated them personally. They were owned and cared for and belonged to our people, and we intend to do the same for them today. These collections of belongings from Qithyil are held at three places: the Laboratory of Archaeology at the University of British Columbia, the Department of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University, and the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre.

Where Two Rivers Meet (Naxaxalhts'i "Sonny" McHalsie)

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[Lucille Hall]: Yeah it’s such a beautiful place, you know, where the rivers meet. Um, such a glorious, glorious place and it’s such a blessing there.

[Naxaxalhts’i ‘Sonny’ McHalsie]: Here at the mouth of the Harrison River and where the Harrison River and the Fraser River join together. It’s a really amazing and beautiful place to be because you can actually see where the two waters kind of meet and where they actually swirl together. So you can see the blue water, you can see the dark Fraser River water. You can see them kind of swirling together here.

[Andy Phillips]: The geographic location, the Anora Bay here and where the two rivers meet we have a historical history where the waterway was our, uh, roads back then and so we are probably very prosperous tribe before the smallpox epidemic came.

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Lucille (Learning)

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[Lucille Hall]: So it’s important that our young ones learn, as much as they can, embrace as much as they can, regarding the Sq’éwlets First Nation. People, their culture, um. And I hope that for the future. You know, I hope it gets better. You know, I’m proud, I’m very proud to be from here. It’s a beautiful place. It really is. Yeah.

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Our goal has long been to bring the belongings from Qithyil together in one place, both to learn from and to share our story. One of our Elders, Clifford Hall, notes that Xwelítem (European settlers) have not always respected Sq’éwlets history. This is why it is so important to give our own view of our own history. We want to connect our youth with their history in a real way. Our previous Chief, Andy Phillips, says how important it is to have “our traditional teachings, customs, and practices taught within the home, rather than from outside.”

We began making this website in 2010. We used an online research site called the Reciprocal Research Network ( to assemble photographs of the Qithyil belongings and to create the exhibit presented in the Belongings section. In time, our vision expanded to be about much more than our Qithyil belongings. It came to be about us as Sq’éwlets people today. We shot video of our Elders talking about Sq’éwlets history and our youth doing cultural activities that excite them, such as traditional dancing and paddling. These videos are in the Our Voices section. We present knowledge of our families, our leaders, our relations, and our experiences. We wrote this text thinking of what our youth, other Stó:lō communities, our non-Stó:lō neighbours, and others would like to know about us as a thriving community today. We are proud of what we have created.

Our Elder Betty Charlie reflects:

“I think this project is good for the younger generations at Sq’éwlets. It will help them lead better lives if they know where they came from. I tell my grandchildren there is no limit to what they can do when they have opportunities and they put their minds to it.”