JULY 19, 2022

Hello there

Weyt-kp [WHY-tkp], hello, I hope everyone is doing well. My name is Kenthen Thomas. I’m a storyteller from the Secwépemc Nation. I was born in Tk'emlúps te Secwe̓pemc and lived most of my life in an area known as Sxwesméllp [Swits-malph], Salmon Arm. 

Part of growing up here was understanding our connection with the land, Secwépemc’ulucw [suh-WHEP-muhc-em-cooluc], and the stories. The creators of these stories have always been known as the ancestors of the Secwépemc’ulucw. There are many people who have taught me them, people as old as 88 years old and as young as 11, including my son Susep Soulle, who is a great singer and a fluent language speaker. My parents are Phyllis and Gerry Thomas. My partner Melissa has two children named Tristan and Lexus. 

I'll tell you why we introduce ourselves in this way. One, it's about respect. Respecting our listeners, respecting ourselves, respecting the young ones, the people yet to come and our future Knowledge Keepers and sharers. They are the true owners of this knowledge. And it’s to acknowledge that we only know what we know. We can only teach what we can teach.

Here I am looking out over Lower Adams River at Tsútswecw Provincial Park in October, 2021 telling stories. Photo by Kristal Burgess/Culture Days

For the next few emails, I’d like to share some knowledge with you. And I’ll tell you why. When my son was in Grade 8, he sang a song in front of the whole school all by himself. His buddies were supposed to sing with him but they backed out. After they saw his confidence and willingness to share, they joined him and they sang all together. Later that night, I asked him, ‘Why did you do that?’

He hesitated for a second, and he goes, ‘Someone said to me that if you have a song or a story, it's your responsibility to share it. If you know the traditions and the knowledge of our ancestors, then it's your duty to share them.’ 

I listened to that, and was like, ‘Holy smokes, he is wise beyond his years!’ So I've always held that. Gone is the time when we needed to keep this knowledge to ourselves and die with it because we didn't want a non-Indigenous person to take it. Now we need to start sharing the little knowledge that we have. And that’s what I’ll be doing over these next emails.

Kukwstsétsemc [cooks-CHECH-em] for sitting with me and listening as I share this little bit of knowledge that I have.  



P.S. The pronunciations provided are meant to serve as a guide to help you recognize the words and try to say them properly. Secwepemctsín (the language of the Secwe̓pemc) has different dialects and pronunciations. Many of these sounds are not found in the English language and can be a challenge to learn. Where possible we have referenced spelling and pronunciation using First Peoples’ Cultural Council First Voices. Just try to say them, even if you stumble.


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