“I’m here for the joy” was a statement echoed by multiple participants in Tuesday night’s first Cultural Territories 101 with Nicole Preissl – and if you’ve had the opportunity to interact with Nicole (virtually or pre-pandemic) you won’t be surprised by this sentiment!
Nicole, born and raised in Burnaby, is Sto:lo from Leq’a:mel First Nation. Her great-grandmother was Squamish from X̱wemelch’stn and great grandfather from Katzie. Nicole has taught weaving and other guilds for EartHand Gleaners and is now leading this free and open-access virtual program for individuals to gain knowledge of the different Nations in this province and to develop a broader understanding of the specific cultural practices and the plant kin relied upon in different regions.
Over the course of the series Nicole will be leading us through the province in a counter-clockwise direction, and to start introduced us to the mainland Coast Salish region.
We were welcomed as we were, with as much or as little existing knowledge of Coast Salish culture and land, and were led through the geography, the Nations that make up the region, the language base the connects nearly all Coast Salish Peoples, and the colonial history of the term ‘Coast Salish’.
Nicole focused on Coast Salish Wool Weaving and through photos and stories introduced us to the various fibres used and the respective culture, traditions, and stewardship associated with each. We learned about the use of Mountain Goat wool (and how dirty their wool is from a story of first-hand experience!) and learned about the significance and historical use of the Salish Wooly Dog which is now extinct as a direct result of colonization. We also touched on plant fibres, including fireweed fluff and pounded Red Cedar, found in historical blankets.
We were introduced to the Cultural Leaders who both reignited these weaving traditions and those who continue to practice, teach, and show their work, including Janice George and Buddy Joseph (Squamish), Deborah Sparrow (Musqueam), Angela George (Squamish/Tsleil-Waututh), Danielle Morset (Suquamish), and Bill James (Lummi Hereditary Chief).
Over the hour and a half session I was transported from my computer desk (bed) to the mountains of the Salish Sea, to the looms and spindle whorls of Coast Salish weavers and spinners, joined in celebration of the skill and technology employed by the peoples from this region, and was kindly and firmly reminded of the importance of language and of honouring story – all thanks to Nicole’s storytelling skills and her open and honest presence in tandem with an eager and curious group of participants.
Homework Invitation from Nicole:
Take 5-10 minutes to look up one Nation from the Thompson-Okanagan Region (spanning approximately from Princeton through the Okanagan and up to the Shuswap)
Interested in attending?
Register now for the upcoming Spring Sessions.
Every other Tuesday evening from 7:00-8:30 pm PST on Zoom.