When I first visited the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, it occurred to me that it was like an embassy, a place that attested to a dynamic culture, a place you could go for assistance and orientation when you were in a new land, get your passport stamped… I’ve always loved that the frontline staff were called ambassadors, and have been in awe of the courageous, open hearted and vulnerable way in which they’ve been willing to meet guests in their/our curiosity and ignorance, and walk them/us slowly towards a deeper understanding of what it means to be First Nations, what it means to be on someone’s territory, what it means to realise that culture is not static, and that we’re not talking about caricatures, cardboard cutouts or archeology when we’re talking about indigenous culture.. we’re talking about people, here and now, living the culture, healing, learning about it, adapting it…
AMBASSADORS is an exhibit featuring environmental portraits and a selection of artistic creations, of some of these team mebers, at the SLCC until March. It was designed to illustrate the role the Cultural Centre plays in Cultural Sharing & Growth for Sḵwx̱wú7mesh & Lil’wat7ul.
One portrait features Theodora Sam, Manager of the Kitchen.Theodora (affectionately/also known as Thea) is of the Lil’wat Nation and was initially hired as a Café Ambassador in 2010; she is one of two people on the SLCC Staff that did not participate in the Ambassador Program.
She started learning to weave baskets at 8 years old with her Grandma Adeline Joseph. She enjoyed fishing with her family every summer for a month at the Fraser River in Lillooet. Thea is a proud mother of three sons: they keep her busy travelling to support them in their sporting activities, basketball and soccer. She enjoys tropical vacations to regain her energy.
She chose to be photographed in front of the mats hanging in the Great Hall as homage to her Grandma.
Twenty-five AMBASSADOR portraits are on display in Gallery 3 until March 2020.
All photographs captured by Logan Swayze Photography