Attending the SPO7EZ Fall Feast at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) was an experience that transcended mere dining; it was a journey into the heart of Indigenous culture and tradition. As I entered the Great Hall, I was struck by the sense of community and shared heritage. The long table setting was not just for dining; it was a symbol of communal gathering, resonating deeply with Indigenous values of togetherness and sharing.
The evening was enriched by the presence of Spo7ez Performers in traditional regalia, who brought to life the stories and songs of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Líl̓wat7úl people. Their performances added layers of depth and meaning to our experience, blending seamlessly with the culinary delights that celebrated the fall season.
Speaking of culinary delights, the menu was a testament to the rich bounty of our land. Each dish was a harmony of local flavors and traditional recipes. The Braised Elk Shank with Mushroom Jus was a standout for me. Its tender, flavorful meat, not too gamey, was a perfect example of the skill and care put into the preparation. The entire menu, from the Cranberry-Rosemary Bannock to the Blueberry Bannock Pudding, was a journey through taste, infused with tradition and care.
The cultural activities were particularly enlightening. We started by dancing and were divided into animal groups, each with different moves – a playful yet profound way to connect us to nature and its creatures. But what captivated me most was learning about Dzunukwa. Dzunukwa, often depicted as a powerful, wild, female giant in Kwakwaka’wakw mythology, is both feared and revered. She’s known to reside in the forest and is associated with wealth and transformation. In many stories, she’s depicted as a kidnapper of children, but those who can outwit her are often rewarded with riches. This story, steeped in layers of symbolism and tradition, gave me a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Indigenous folklore.
I also participated in a guessing game that involved discerning which outfits on mannequins were for cold or hot weather. I correctly guessed the one for cold weather due to the tall boots, likely meant for snow. This simple yet insightful game was another way the SLCC engaged us in learning about Indigenous culture and traditions.
The evening concluded with a visit to the SLCC’s gift shop, where I selected Christmas gifts for my loved ones. It felt special to share a piece of this unique cultural experience with others, and supporting the local Indigenous community through these purchases made it even more meaningful.
Reflecting on the entire evening, it was more than just a dinner; it was an immersive experience that combined education, cultural celebration, and culinary delight. It was a journey that connected me more deeply to the rich heritage of the Squamish and Líl̓wat7úl Nations and left me with memories and insights that I will cherish for a long time.
Afterwards, I walked to my hotel and saw this beautiful light display. In Tagalog, we have a saying to the spirits in the woods, “tabi tabi po”, which means may I pass?