Culture & Language

We are T’exelcemc (Williams Lake Nation people), members of the Secwepemc Nation

Honouring the past by embracing the present

For over 6500 years, our people have lived in harmony with the land and with each other, all across Secwepemcul’ecw. It was here our ancestors gathered, built and preserved community – from the lonely, loon-echoed woods, to the rushing, salmon-packed rivers. Though our lives look different than our ancestors’, we are guided by the same passion to connect, build, and forge a path forward to a brighter future. As a part of WLFN’s Health & Wellness Department, we are pleased to offer a variety of Cultural and Spiritual supports to community members, the general public, and outside businesses and organizations. These supports include drumming, prayer, land acknowledgement, Tsqilye (sweat lodge ceremony) and more.

Culture and land are inseparable to the T’exelcemc Nation. Our territory and its bounties, from the soft bark of the Múlc to the golden flowers of the scwicw, define who we are and how we interact with the land and with each other. This deep respect for all faces of nature has been passed down to us through oral teachings from our beloved Elders. Back to our earliest memories, we have been taught everything is interrelated and sacred, from our family lives at home to the growth of every plant and tree in the forest. It’s these meaningful relationships which define our lives, our responsibilities and our duties as a community. We follow the Seven Sacred Laws; a set of ancestral values that inspire our conduct as human beings and brings us back to our relationship with the earth. The seven laws are:

Trust, Patience, Humility, Respect, Generosity, Love,  & Honesty.

Click the links below for guided virtual tours of areas within WLFN’s Traditional Territory.

November: Pellc7éll7úllcwten
“Entering Winter Homes Moon”
December: Pellctíteq̓em
“First Real Cold & Cross Over Moon”
January: Pellkwét̓min
“Sewing & Tanning Moon”
February: Pesqépts
“Chinook Winds Moon”
March: Pesxúxem
“Thawing and Melting Moon”
April: Pelltsek̓úlecwten
“Root Digging & Longer Daylight Moon”
May: Pellcwéw̓lemten
“Lake Fishing Moon”
June: Pesxqéltemc
“Go to Higher Levels Moon”
July: Pestémllik
“Ripening Moon”
August: Pellt̓éxelcten
“Salmon Coming Up Moon”
September: Pellctsíkenten
“Cache Food Moon”
October: Pesllwélsten
“Fall Moon”

For generations, our people have hunted mostly moose and deer. It’s a highly skilled activity that takes many years to master. Young people are welcome to join the older hunters where they’ll learn the intricacies of animal behaviour, habitat, the ideal time to hunt and more. Our traditional method of fishing, dipnetting has been passed down from generation to generation. Today, parents still bring their children to the rivers and streams to pass on this skill. Read Chief Willie’s book: Dipnetting With Dad

The diversity of Secwepemcul’ecw provides a bounty of resources. From the cedar forests of Likely, to the rugged deserts of Kwellḱéḿt (Farwell Canyon), our people forage for everything from medicinal plants, berries, sage and mushrooms, to birchbark for baskets and pine needles for needlework. The places and seasons to harvest is protected knowledge that is passed through the generations.

Our traditional ceremonies balance and ground us, from celebrating the changing of seasons, to marking periods of life and death, along with simply gathering as a community. Though each ceremony looks different (dancing and fire-making to political events), every gathering is first led by an opening prayer from a respected Elder. Seeking guidance from our Creator is a constant effort. We are always praying for well-being and direction, and it’s our way of paying respect and staying connected to our culture. Every household had a Tsqilye (sweat lodge) at one time in our people’s history. Though there aren’t as many sweat lodges these days, this deeply healing ritual is still practiced regularly by many members in our community. The T’exelc Tsqilye are located within the Byron Louie Memorial Park. Find out when Tsqilye ceremonies and other cultural events are happening by joining the WLFN Cultural Events group on Facebook (click link).

WLFN hosts two annual Pow Wows; the Speaking Our Truth Competition Pow Wow each September, and the Father’s Day Traditional Pow Wow each June. We also host regular Pow Wow nights which are a chance for community members to come out and practice their moves, learn some new songs, and keep the spirit of Pow Wow alive.

Our most treasured belongings have long been those made by our own hands, and the hands of our ancestors. Today, we continue to craft buckskin clothing, moccasins, vests, coats, birch baskets and cottonwood canoes for our families and our businesses.

WLFN Artists

WLFN Cultural Coordinator
David Archie
[email protected]