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Cheam Community Life

Introduction by Rick Quipp (former Councillor)

Our culture and spiritual teachings are important to the Cheam community. It is our teachings that build the person that we become. Our most important teachings to ourselves is to have fun, respect ourselves and others, be proud of our community and be proud of who we are and where we come from. We have a program for Cheam children in foster care, this program is called "Roots and Ties". Once a month we have a dinner and encourage family members of children in care to come spend time with their children. At the dinners, the families share stories and other cultural activities. Historical events are discussed such as colonization and residential schools and how this changed our community life and our families. In fact, these two historical events almost wiped out our spiritual and cultural traditions by: taking our identity away; banning our spiritual practices; prohibiting us from voting and enforcing the Indian Act.

The experience of our people has been ...

 

Chief And Council

The Cheam First Nation Members grant power to an elected Chief & Council to govern the affairs of the community with sound decision-making and an emphasis on the future.

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History

Overview of History of the Sto:lo After Contact

Indian reserves are the remnants of "Our Land" they are the bits and pieces of our sovereignty, of our culture that have survived. They are monuments of our victory against extinction. They are symbols of continuing struggle against our oppression by the Europeans. Today an Indian reserve is a jail. Tomorrow it should be the basis of independence.

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History Of The Mountain Goat People

A young man went hunting mountain goats, as the story goes, on Cheam Mountain and became lost to his people, and came to live with the Mountain Goat People that live deep inside Mount Cheam. He lived with these people for many years, taking a wife and together they had 2 children. Eventually he returned to his parents who were, by that time very, very old. He lived in his parents’ village with his wife and children from that time on, never returning to the home of the Mountain Goat People. It is said that the young man, his wife and children are the ancestors of the people who live on Cheam Indian Reserve today. The name “Cheam” is a Halq’eméylem word pronounced “Chiyom”, which mean “wild strawberry place”. The village of Cheam is located just below the highest peak in the mountains stringing along the east side of Chilliwack. The people of Cheam live on two parcels of land, Cheam #1, holding most of the community with 821 acres, is located on the south ...

 

Legends Of Cheam

I ntroduction written based on interview with Joe Aleck

Pre-contact, every "village" had an Indian name. Today, the villages have been turned into "reservations" and given a "white" name. Chiyom, originates from the halquemeylem name T'chiyam and is now known as Cheam, which means "wild strawberry place". When our homesteads were up towards the eastside of Chiyom, you could smell the wild strawberries for miles away. And when people asked where we were from, we would say T'chiyam and they would know that we lived in the wild strawberry place. In the older days, none of our people spoke English so there wasn't any translation to think about in our language. The mountain goat has a story for Cheam - it tells where we came from as Chiyom people. Chiyom is also known for the beautiful Mt. Cheam. The legend about Lady Mt. Cheam is that she was taken south and married Mt. Rainier. They had five children, two were males and three were females. Lady Mt. Cheam got lonely for the people in the valley so she took ...

 

Medicinal Plant Harvesting and Uses

Plant harvesting for medicinal purposes and food has been our common practice for as long as anyone can remember and a very important key to our way of life. There is a connection that our First Nation people have to our traditional plants. In Cheam we have a few members dedicated to traditional medicines and have their own back yard gardens containing our medicines. Harvesting is still practiced today and growing stronger and our younger generation is taking notice, this is good as the traditional medicines will not be lost and can be handed down to generations’ to come.

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Spiritual Tradition

To respect our teachings passed down from generation to generation, we cannot share too much about our spiritual traditions as they are very sacred to us. Cheam has a number of band members that practice the spiritual tradition of the longhouse and those oral teachings are passed down from one Cheam member to another. Our culture and spiritual traditions are unwritten practices that are so important to Cheam people and can be summed up in one word,”Identity”. Our spiritual traditions are kept alive through oral history and shared with the outside. Our traditions and culture bring back who we were and who we are now.

Tradition and Culture was and is about survival. Collecting, preserving and bartering were our way of life and it was what we had to do to survive. We don’t have that as much today. Now we are gaining our culture and traditions back from the knowledge of our elders and are practicing our traditional ceremonies. The best way to preserve our traditions and culture is by ...