From archaeological evidence it is known that the St̓át̓imc have occupied our traditional territory for thousands of years. Today the
St̓át̓imc are organized administratively into eleven bands,
six of which are members of and support the USLCES and total some 2600 people. The principal
commercial and administrative centre for these communities is Lillooet.
Traditional activities such as salmon fishing, deer hunting, berry picking,
plant gathering and song and dance continue amongst the St̓át̓imc.
However, St̓át̓imcets, the language, is today in danger of extinction.
Approximately 100 people over the age of sixty are fluent in St̓át̓imcets.
The Upper St̓át̓imc Language, Culture and Education Society(USLCES)
incorporated under the Societies Act of BC in 1991 and is recognized by Revenue
Canada as a charitable organization. Its foundation was an initiative of the Upper
St̓át̓imc Education Committee; the membership comes from the six
Upper St̓át̓imc communities and other interested people from the Lillooet area.
Since its formation the Society has been a leading force in developing and
administering language and cultural programs with a budget exceeding $100,000.
Under the leadership of the USLCES a number of successful initiatives have been launched to establish
a special place: a facility dedicated to St̓át̓imc culture
– a St̓át̓imc cultural centre.
The Need for a St̓át̓imc Cultural Centre
Since its inception in 1991 it has been the role of the USLCES to preserve,
revive and maintain the language and cultural heritage of the Upper
St̓át̓imc. This is being accomplished mainly through language
classes, and publishing culturally relevant teaching materials.
The lack of such a centre has been identified as a serious constraint on the
Society’s programs and plans for the future. For example, post-secondary
level language classes have had to be shuffled around town as space has been
available. The return of St̓át̓imc cultural artifacts to the
community is often dependent on a suitable facility for storage and display being
available. No such facility currently exists. As well, for local dance and drama
groups practise and performance space is often hard to secure and seldom ideal.
To meet these needs, the Society is planning to develop a centre that will serve
as a home to St̓át̓imc artifacts, archival materials, a publishing
office for educational material, for language and cultural programs, theatre and
dance groups and a gift shop featuring St̓át̓imc arts and
crafts. As well, the Centre will provide a place for all local residents and
visitors to share the unique experience of St̓át̓imc culture.
- Revive and maintain the St̓át̓imc language and heritage
- Bridge the cultural gap within the Lillooet area
- Educate the St̓át̓imc and others of our culture and history
- Provide career development opportunities
- Promote the production, sale and trade of traditional arts and crafts
In addition, the USLCES sees the Centre as a focus for the development of St̓át̓imc tourism-related activities and businesses. With the dramatic growth in the
number of visitors to Lillooet in recent years there is enormous potential for
developing St̓át̓imc oriented attractions. Nearby Lillooet, for example,
are two undisturbed prehistoric village sites which could have seasonal
interpretive programs coordinated through the Centre. This objective of
promoting St̓át̓imc oriented tourism has the solid support of the
District of Lillooet as well as the local Chamber of Commerce.
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