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Éy St’elmexw St’elt’ílém - GOOD MEDICINE SONGS         
Chapter 4
 - 2023/2024


Have the Songbook open and listen to Audio Glossaries for correct pronunciation of the Halq’eméylem lyrics

Here we are, at the next stage of the journey that is Éy St’élmexw St’elt’ílém - Good Medicine Songs. We have three new songs to share with you: St’et’il te Temexw Xwela ye Sqweltel/The Land is Lonesome for the Language; Stam Kwe Seliw it te Si:tel/What is In the Basket?; and I’xel Sq’eq’otel/Pulling Together. You can download Chapter 4 of our GMS Songbook, with the stories and lyrics and illustrations. We are happy and grateful to have the opportunity to do this work, create these songs and perform them with community.


2023 has been a wonderful ride for Good Medicine Songs! In the spring we did our first ever program in a high school. We worked with teachers and students at Imagine High Integrated Arts & Technology Secondary. None of us had any idea how teenagers would respond. They embraced the program! We collaborated with students in the Stream Restoration elective, and the Rock Band program to create a beautiful new song called Xwelelam te Stótelō/Listen to the Stream. The students sang in Halq’eméylem, developed rock band arrangements and spoke with such eloquence about the need for restoring salmon habitat and reconciliation. We received a lot of media coverage for the final concert that took place on June 21st, 2023—National Day of Indigenous Peoples. Special thanks goes to our funding partners, Tire Stewardship BC, Interchange Recycling and SD 33 (Chilliwack).


GMS was invited back to perform at Chilliwack Canada Day on July 1st. And then brought in for the 150th Anniversary Celebrations on November 16th, at Townsend Park. We were thrilled to be received with applause, dancing and singing along by this broad community audience; people with no prior knowledge or exposure really connect with the songs.


We did a series of songwriting and rehearsal sessions to prepare for the recording session in mid-July. We went in to Downe Under Studios in Abbotsford, that worked really well for us. It has a big room that accommodated all of us singing, drumming and playing in a circle, with a forest of mic stands and cords surrounding us.


The relationship with the University of the Fraser Valley deepened with their support of a series of projects:


In August, the Good Medicine Songs family gathered for our fourth songwriting retreat. The spirit and the ancestors graced us with three more songs, that we are looking forward to bringing into the world in 2024. What we’re finding over the past five years of songwriting, is that the songs keep evolving in their form and style. It’s so interesting to see what emerges. Tl’ils te Smatstel/Love with Pride, was created to honour and support two spirit people, and has a musical form unlike any previous GMS song. It is possibly the first song in Halq’eméylem to celebrate queer folk.


In mid-September, GMS was honoured to perform at the UFV Community Launch and Community Celebration at the Abbotsford Eco-Farm. We drew the crowd to a standing ovation!


On September 28, 2023, GMS produced the Second Annual Chowiyes-Xwithet/Rise Up-Wake Up gathering, for a sold out crowd at the UFV Gathering Place in Chilliwack. A full lunch was served in the Atrium, and then everyone walked to the Gathering Place. We were proud that a contingent of Imagine High students wanted to join us, and lead the singing of Listen to the Stream. Their teacher told us that the students liked that the Listen to the Stream project was not a “one-off”, that it had relevance in the broader community. The lyrics were displayed on screen, and the crowd sang along in Halq’eméylem, and did a hand dance to Shxwelí. People shared stories and witnessed the ceremony where the sacred basket donated by Lolehawk’s family was placed above the entrance to the Gathering Place by Acting President James Mandigo. Xótxwes Jonny Williams said, “The second Chowiyes gathering was the best. Everyone who spoke, started out in Halq’eméylem. We can see that our language is alive and growing!”


In November, GMS and Imagine High students performed for the BC School Superintendents Association annual conference. The main ballroom at the Westin Bayshore Inn was filled with 600 delegates, who erupted in a standing ovation. “What a performance! It was transformative, not just for the students, but for all the adults as well. It showed everyone the potential that exists in our learning communities.” (Kirk Savage, Assistant Superintendent, SD 33-Chilliwack.)


Just a few days later, GMS and Imagine High students performed for the UFV Educational Leadership Summit at the Clarion Hotel in Abbotsford. In attendance were district staff and secondary school administrators from the six districts in Stó:lō territory: Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission, Fraser Cascades, Langley and Maple Ridge. Another standing ovation!


The songs, the language, the youth, the energy…they move people. We know that. Shxwóxwelches. We raise our hands in respect and gratitude for the support of our community and the ancestors. We are moving forward into the next stage of our journey and we are Pulling Together/I’xel Sq’eq’otel.

St’et’il te temexw xwela ye sqweltel
The Land is Lonesome for the Language

Stam kwe seliw i te si:tel?

What is in the Basket?

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