Xwelitem Transformations


For them, it was a country without legend or tradition ... A lake, however beautiful, was just a lake, a mountain a mountain, waiting for some surveyor to give it a name and measurement. A tree was just a tree—and probably in the way ... White people, finding the land was used only for hunting, fishing and gathering, simply saw an empty wilderness, awaiting the day when such as they would make it over—as a matter of right—in their own image. —Imbert Orchard, historian


Transformation is central to the story of Stone T'xwelátse both in the distant past of the Sxxwiyám and also in more recent history. In the distant past, Xexá:ls used their power of transformation to bring the people and land into harmony. More recently, in the last two hundred years, the arrival of European settlers—Xwelitem—brought transformations that threw the people and the land into chaos. The gold rush. The creation of reserves. Children sent to residential school.

It is within the context of the transformations unleashed by Xwelitem settlement that the next part of Stone T'xwelátse's story unfolds. To evoke the impact of these transformations, Xwelitem artist David Campion chose the iconic landmark features of Lhílheqey and Semá:th Lake to speak to how European settlement both physically and imaginatively changed the landscape of S'ólh Téméxw.