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 that colonization led to residential schools. Residential schools and all the atrocities that happened in them and through them led to drug and alcohol abuse. This in turn has led to justice (jail) for our people and ultimately urbanization. However, we are intentionally focusing on strengthening our community life and families today. We have built a longhouse, we have a Cheam dance group, we practice all our ceremonies, and we pick and preserve traditional foods, medicines and plants.
To give more strength to our people, we need to work on grievances, trauma and health. We need to incorporate all kinds of healing to strengthen our families. Our vision is to become healthy and wealthy again. By saying wealthy, we mean socially, culturally and physically stable as a community.